Interview with Ivan Ramiro Cordoba

Ivan Ramiro Cordoba, born in Rionegro, a small town in Colombia, became a world class football star with great tenacity and passion.

In 2000 he started playing for Inter, where he played until 2012, establishing himself as one of the team’s most prestigious players of Inter. He seems that he has won everything that could be had: five league titles, a Champions League, four Italian Cups, four Italian Super Cups and a World Cup. He was captain of the Colombian national team with which he won an America’s Cup. Today he works as a manager / trainer and helps young Colombian footballers establish themselves internationally.

Ivan, the fast and impetuous defender on the pitch, is also a thoughtful, calm and immensely charismatic man in life, a model husband and family man, a sincere friend who is always ready to help – in short, a great man who has made simplicity his way of life.Today we will meet Ivan again, not on the football field, but in a completely different environment for him: in the kitchen! Ivan will reveal some of his food secrets and his favorite dish.

What does dedicating your life to football mean to you? And in a certain sense, to Inter, the team you played with for many years.

It has great meaning, because as a child my dream was to become a professional footballer, imagine all I managed to do !!!

If you hadn't been a footballer, what would you have liked to do in life?

I would have finished technical school, specializing in industrial mechanics, so I would have liked to work as an aviation mechanic or alternatively as a forest engineer – I don’t know if you say that in Italian.

Yes Perfect!

How does Ivan as a man see Ivan as a footballer?

A footballer loyal to his team, who gives everything on the pitch for his fellow teammates, strives to achieve goals and always keeps in mind basic values such as discipline and respect.

Tell us about a good moment and a not so good one that marked your sporting life.

It’s hard to pick just one good moment, there were so many good ones. Certainly winning the championship with my first youth team, the America’s Cup victory with my Colombian national team and the many victories with Inter. A bad one, would be when as a young guy, I was rejected from several teams for being too short to play as midfielder.

For some years, you have been a football manager / trainer and also you are carrying out other activities outside the sports world. What do you do specifically?

I advise young players, coaching them during their training and following their growth path. I have also been involved in real estate investments for years. In the past with my brother, who is an architect, I bought, renovated and sold several real estate units. I am currently developing a large shopping mall in Columbia. This intervention gave me the opportunity to learn more about project management and made me passionate about other forms of management as well, such as in the football field.

Do you have a secret wish?

To have my own football team and be the manager.

What advice do you give to young people who want to be a football player?

Always do it with passion, and never give up at the first obstacle that arises  – there will be many – but always believe in yourself and try to improve yourself through training, even alone. Take time to study, because academic education is what allows to make appropriate career choices.

You are Colombian and have been living abroad for many years. Do you miss your country?

Yes, I miss it, but the Italians made us feel at home.

As an Inter player you could have lived in Milan, an international metropolis, but instead you chose our beautiful lake, in particular Como, a provincial town. Why this choice?

Because Como is fantastic, family-friendly, and the landscape of the mountains and the lake reminds me a lot of my land in Colombia.

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I like Italy so much because it seems to be in an open-air museum. As a child I liked the Italian language so much, and I never imagined a better chance to learn and live it day after day. I wouldn’t change anything, because Italy is so beautiful with its strengths and weaknesses.

Your relationship with religion has always been very strong and has helped you overcome difficult moments in your life. Is it true that before every home game, you attended the Sunday mass with the president and colleagues?

Yes, religion was fundamental for me, because it allowed me to have faith and continue to believe in everything that is dearest to me. Angelo Moratti, our president, had built a chapel in our sportscenter, where every Saturday evening we had the opportunity to participate at the Holy Mass with Don Luigi Misto (the very Inter priest).

Why did you decide to write a book about your life - “Fight like a man”? A captivating and interesting book that I recommend to everyone - both football lovers and not - because it is an extraordinary lesson in life.

Thanks for your words. I wanted to tell the story of Ivan as a footballer and not only, describing the path I took from an early age through a simple and common life, with many difficulties that in any case helped me become more and more confident and strong on the path I had taken.

… That is the great man you are !! Have you thought about translating and publishing the book in your country? It would certainly be a best seller.

To tell the truth I would like it very much and I would do it for charity to help all those people who have been less fortunate than me.

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The secret is my wife, because she always manages to make us very balanced dishes, but I also train a bit.

Or is it the good Italian cuisine that keeps you fit? 

Mediterranean cuisine allows you to eat very well while maintaining a healthy diet.

Who cooks in your house?

Maria, my wife.

Which Colombian dish can you teach us? Does it have a special meaning for you?

NATILLA is a dessert that we make especially for Christmas, made with milk and coconut. I like it a lot because it always reminds me of my childhood when, at Christmas my family gathered together to share those special moments.


I tried Natillia the first time with Ivan and love it: it is a tasty and healthy dessert. It satisfies a craving for dessert without being too sweet and rich. 

NATILLA RECIPE
Preparation time: 20 minutes + 2 hours of cooling Servings: 10-12

INGREDIENTS

1200 ml (5 cups) whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon liquid vanilla
160 g (1 cup) whole cane sugar
120 g (1 cup) cornstarch
80 g (1 heaping cup) grated coconut
15 g  (1 tablespoon) butter
Ground cinnamon  to decorate

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring 960 ml (4 cups) of milk to boil with the cinnamon sticks in a non-stick pan (about 5-6 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch with a spoon. Add 240 ml (1 cup) of milk and mix well with a whisk until the mixture is homogeneous.
3. Remove the cinnamon from the milk and add the vanilla. Pour in the sugar and cornstarch mixture, stirring with a plastic whisk. Add the butter. 4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the coconut and stirr constantly, cook until the mixture has a consistency similar to pudding. Cook for about 8-10 minutes.
5. Pour into a non-stick angelfood ring mold of about 22 cm (about 9 inch). Leave to set in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or at room temperature for 3 hours.
6. Pour onto a serving plate and decorate with ground cinnamon powder.

Conversions:
1 cup = 240 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 teaspoon =5 ml
1 inch = 2.5 cm

Ivan Ramiro Cordoba con Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn – Lake Como Tourism

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