There is a strong bond linking Inter and Pirelli, in a happy union that keeps unfolding in time. Twenty years have passed since the two brands came together for the 1995/96 season: two decades characterised by a fruitful history of joint projects and shared values, both in sports and business. It was May 6th 1998 when Javier Zanetti lifted the UEFA Cup to the Parisian skies in the Parc des Princes: Pirelli was there, its logo gleaming on the puffed out chests of Ronaldo and his proud teammates, under the bright lights of the Ville Lumière. For three years Pirelli had been the main sponsor of Moratti’s team, reaping its first great international victory within a mere few months.
International victories take an international team, such as Simoni’s, lined up on the benches during that magical Parisian night, and an international sponsor like Pirelli – a brand that has been making waves across the world for many decades. Pirelli’s link with the football world only consolidated its transnational appeal, allowing the company to reveal its universal and diverse personality. Remember the years of the Ronaldo fever? Football schools were springing up all over Brazil, and children everywhere donning jerseys with the name of ‘the phenomenon’ printed across the back. Ronaldo himself posed as Christ the Redeemer for one of the most iconic ads of the Milanese brand: Luís Nazário de Lima ascending onto the higher plane, on a level with the Nazarene himself. Pirelli was there all along, an ever-present witness to the unfolding of those legendary events.
Internationalism and victories are recurring themes during the first decade of the 2000s. In the 2009/10 season Inter unveils its new kit, embellished with Chinese ideograms: a homage to Beijing, chosen by Lega Calcio as the setting of the Italian Supercoppa final, for the first time in history. Should we be so bold as to talk of ‘luck’ in the game of football, we could go as far as to advance the theory that Pirelli has acted in the guise of a great lucky-charm for Inter, attracting all sorts of trophies and successes. By the end of that season, Mourinho’s formation brought home a full-house of victories: the legendary triplete – Scudetto, Champions League and Coppa Italia.
Since its first inception the partnership between Inter and Pirelli has seen the blue-and-black team win 13 home trophies and 3 international ones – including a Club World Cup. But the Milanese brands have established a long-running bond that goes beyond successful times, and are accustomed to fighting side by side through the most difficult stretches too: they know the key to any happy marriage is to be sticking together through thick and thin. Pirelli is Inter, and vice versa: football fans have grown to mention them in a single breath – the name of the brand recalls the image of the team, and the other way round, for a mutual exchange of emotions. Their fusion is a very rare occurrence in the history of football clubs and their sponsors.
The greatest proof of their close relationship is that nothing has changed since the Moratti family sold the club to Erick Thohir: Pirelli has chosen to remain part of the history of this incredible team, that keeps unfolding through the years, taking strength from the sharing of ideas and strategies as well as the many successes achieved over time. The bond between Pirelli and Inter is unbreakable – the same way some elements are perfectly bound to one another in chemistry. From Zanetti to Zanetti, from Moratti to Thohir, from the UEFA Cup to the legendary triplete, and through all five consecutive scudetti, Pirelli has always been there stitched across the heart of each blue and black jersey.