Hanging around in the mixed zone in the depths of any Serie A stadium waiting for footballers to breeze by without a sideward glance would on the whole seem to be a less than satisfying way to pass a few hours.
However, Italian reporters go about their task with amazing gusto and a homing technique that can bring even the most determined player to a halt for “a quick word” but in the period it takes for those said stars to gel-up and exit the dressing room there is plenty of time to muse over the meaning of life – well, life as we know it in the football universe.
The clubs send out two players who offer a couple of handy but in general inane sound-bites to the waiting cameras and hacks while their team-mates no doubt breathing a sigh of relief at not having to search for the right words to describe their joy/disappointment can either slip out a back door or plug in their headphones and take on the thousand yard stare approach as they stride by.
Having commentated ourselves to a standstill during Inter’s battling win over Lazio at the weekend, we decided to join our colleague Stefania in the bowels of the San Siro as she prepared to ask the pressing questions of the day to both the victors and vanquished – and find out if anyone would actually stop for a chat.
We opined that Lazio, having gone a goal up with Inter down to ten men, lacked the heart and desire to administer the coup de grace and thus stake a genuine claim for a top-three finish.
“Animus belli,” replied the scholarly Stef which apparently is a Latin expression for being endowed with many good qualities but lacking the necessary fortitude to see something through i.e. fighting spirit.
Having spent each and every Latin lesson at school staring out the window who were we to argue and certainly coming from the lips of a cheery Italian female it sounds a lot more romantic than calling them a bunch of bottlers or as Ernest Hemmingway would have coined: lacking cojones.
In fact, it would have been the perfect ice-breaker when confronting Lazio president Claudio “the Don” Lotito who after all is not averse to carrying out most of his post-game analysis in a mixture of Latin and Roman idiomatic expressions.
It is just a shame that his defence were not equally impenetrable ... but at least now we know that spending time with the post-game interviewers can be an educational experience.