Roberto Baggio : biography
After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with Internazionale. This proved to be an unfortunate move, as after disappointing results and several managerial changes (including Luigi Simoni and Roy Hodgson), Baggio’s ex-manager during the 1994-95 Season with Juventus, Marcello Lippi, was appointed as Inter’s new manager for the 1999-2000 Serie A Season. The then coach did not favour Baggio, and left him out of the squad for most of the season. Whilst at Juventus, he had previously chosen to sell him to Milan in 1995. This lack of playing time and exclusion from the first team caused Baggio to eventually lose his place in the national team, and Baggio was not called up for Euro 2000. In his autobiography, Baggio later declared that Lippi had effectively dumped him after Baggio had refused to point out which of Inter’s players had expressed negative opinions about the coach. During his time at Inter, Baggio did however manage a memorable brace against Real Madrid, in the 1998-1999 Champions League Group Stage. He scored 4 goals in total and helped lead Inter to the quarter finals, in which Inter were knocked out by the eventual winners, Manchester United. Baggio scored 5 goals and provided 10 assists in Serie A that season and also helped lead Inter to a Coppa Italia Semifinal, losing out to eventual winners, Parma, although they finished in a disappointing 8th place in Serie A. In the 1999-2000 season, Inter were runners-up to Serie A winners Lazio in the Coppa Italia Final. Baggio was not often played that season, scoring only 4 goals during the regular Serie A season and 1 goal in the Coppa Italia, whilst he was not played in Europe. Baggio still managed several important goals, as Inter managed to finish in fourth place, tied with Parma. His last important contribution to Inter was scoring two memorable goals against Parma (one from a freekick on the right, beating goalkeeper Buffon on the near post from a tight angle; the other a half volley from outside the area with his left foot) in the playoff for the last remaining UEFA Champions League place, which Inter won 3–1. This game is considered an example of professionalism shown by Baggio. Inter president Massimo Moratti had stated that Lippi would only stay on as manager if the team made it into the Champions League. Baggio’s goals, helping Inter to clinch the fourth Champions League Qualifying Spot, meant that he would be leaving the club the following season, due to his strenuous relationship with his manager.
After two years with Inter, in order to be called up for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he transferred to previously unfashionable Brescia, under Carlo Mazzone, his aim being to save them from relegation. He was made captain and was given the number 10 jersey and played in more of a trequartista role during his time at Brescia. Despite initial injury problems, he managed 10 goals and 10 assists in the 2000-2001 Serie A season, including a memorable brace against Fiorentina, a game winning penalty against Inter, a late equalising free kick against Napoli, and a late equaliser against Juventus at the Delle Alpi Stadium, assisted by Andrea Pirlo. He also scored a hat-trick against Lecce, in which he scored his second goal of the match directly from a corner kick. Brescia finished in a comfortable joint 7th place and qualified for the Intertoto Cup, also reaching the Quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia that season, losing out to eventual winners and Baggio’s former team Fiorentina. Brescia lost in the final of the 2001 Intertoto Cup against Paris Saint-Germain. Baggio scored one goal in this tournament in the final from a penalty. His performances earned him a nomination for the 2001 Ballon d’Or, despite not having played in European Competitions that season. He finished 25th overall in the rankings.
At the start of 2001–02 season, he scored eight goals in the first nine games, leading him to the top of the Serie A goalscoring table. Unfortunately, during that season, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee twice; despite this severe injury, he came back three games before the end of the season, making a record recovery of 76 days. In the first game after his comeback, he came in as a substitute, as Josep Guardiola handed him back the captain’s armband, and Baggio scored two goals against his former team Fiorentina, the first of them after only two minutes from the start of the match from a bicycle kick with his left foot. He scored again against another team he played for, Bologna, saving Brescia from relegation on the final matchday. Brescia made the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia that season, losing to eventual winners Parma.