By Chris Wright
As you probably already know, Roy Hodgson served as manager of Inter Milan between 1995 and 1997 and is fondly remembered at the Italian club for arresting the Nerazzurri’s dreadful, bottom-of-the-table start to the 1995/96 season and subsequently rejuvenating them to a third place finish the season after that.
Hodgson also returned for a brief second stint in charge of Inter as caretaker coach for just six games in 1999 as a favour for his old chum Massimo Moratti, the Italian club’s now-former owner and president (he recently flogged 70% of his stake to Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir) that ended in Hodgson, being the gentleman he is, refusing to accept a single penny of his friend’s money for doing so.
Moratti, being the multi-millionaire he is, repeatedly insisted on paying Hodgson for his services, though the man who would later become the England manager remained resolute in his no-cash stance.
However, after insistent badgering from Moratti, Hodgson buckled and offered a fairly unusual compromise: in lieu of money changing hands, he decided that he would like to be paid in tickets to a famous Milan opera house to see Luciano Pavarotti in concert.
Moratti, speaking to The Sun, regaled the negotiations:
“The second time Roy came to Inter as manager for a few weeks he did not ask for money but instead asked for tickets at La Scala.
“He didn’t want to be paid, and it was for one month or something. He told me ‘no, no, no, I don’t want to be paid by you. I do it because we are friends and you need me.’
“I asked him ‘please, I don’t want you to do it without anything from my side. I insisted, and he told me ‘if you insist, I have to say that I will have tickets for La Scala.
“We went together, of course.”
Frankly, we’d expect nothing less of Roy: a class act if ever there were, though he was definitely able to get the “I know some very bad people” look down to a ‘T’ during his time in Milan…