23 May 2018
It’s not often you get the chance to take some of Italy’s most legendary footballers on a boat trip down the Norfolk Broads.
Fresh from playing in front of nearly 18,000 noisy fans at Carrow Road, an Inter Forever squad packed with former international stars sampled a more tranquil side to Norfolk life, courtesy of NYA.
We were delighted to be asked to provide four boats to give the squad, including Nicola Berti, Alessandro Bianchi, Francesco Toldo and Riccardo Ferri, a short trip down the River Yare from the Water’s Edge at Bramerton.
Inter had just beaten a Norwich City Legends team 2-1 in a charity match to raise funds for the Community Sports Foundation to help pay for the construction of a new community sports hub near Norwich Airport.
And a gentle trip on the Broads in the warm late spring sunshine proved the perfect way to wind down after two games in three days, the squad having beaten Chelsea 4-1 in another charity match on Friday.
Berti, soaking up the sun on the bow of Evita, a Sunseeker Predator 62, enjoyed his first taste of the Broads.
“I love this, especially with the sun,” he said. “I have been to Norwich once before, with Tottenham, but not on the river. It’s lovely, the scenery and peace.”
Massimo Paganin, who played in both legs of Inter’s UEFA Cup win over Norwich in 1993, and Francesco Colonnese joined their team mates on board the boat captained by NYA managing director James Fraser.
Colonnese, who played 56 games for Inter and had spells with Roma, Napoli and Lazio, said the Norwich side, including Bryan Gunn, Darren Huckerby and Grant Holt, had proved a tougher test than Chelsea.
“Much harder – they were younger!” he said. “Huckerby was playing in America not long ago – he was very fit.”
James, who was asked to provide the hour-long cruise by the sports marketing specialist who instigated the legends match, Darren Venn, said the players had been a joy to have on board.
“They were a real pleasure to host – incredibly polite,” he added. “I’m pretty sure they had a good time if the dancing on the way back down the river was anything to go by.
“I think we had by far the noisiest of the boats!”
James’s wife, Rebecca, helped to look after their distinguished guests, while big thanks go to Tom and Sheila Carrington for loaning Dynasty, their Sunseeker Portofino 53, skippered by Mark and Sarah Suckling.
After enjoying a meal at the Water’s Edge at Bramerton, the evening ended on a perfect note for the travelling Inter players as they watched their successors in the famous blue and black shirts snatch an unlikely Champions League place with a dramatic late winner at Lazio.
We’d be more than happy to welcome these fine ambassadors for their club and country back to the Broads.