Fans brave the heat for glimpse of Inter stars

Benítez praises FCD complex as European champs gear up in Frisco

At 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the mercury read an even 100 degrees here. But not even the stifling Texas heat could keep a crowd of around 1,000 fans from seeing UEFA Champions League winners Inter Milan practice on the stadium field at Pizza Hut Park.

The passionate group was treated to a workout by Europe’s reigning club champions for just over an hour on the main field in Frisco. Afterwards, a number of Inter players went over to the edges of the field to meet fans and sign some autographs.

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Among those who got up close and personal with their fans were midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and defenders Maicon and Nelson Rivas.

Cambiasso addressed the media in attendance for several minutes, and one of the first things he did was give the fans credit for turning out to see him and his teammates put through the paces by Inter manager Rafa Benítez, especially in such hot weather.

“This is great to see,” he said through an interpreter. “We hope to offer a great exhibition for the crowd. We’re so happy that so many Latinos are here. We really, truly did not expect it, and we hope to follow it with a great performance on the field.”

Benítez was impressed with the facilities in Frisco, even going so far as to vaguely challenge his players to put in a good performance.

“The pitch is fantastic,” he said. “If you don’t play well here, you don’t have any skills.”

Inter have split their two games so far on their North American tour. They beat Manchester City 3-0 last weekend then fell to Greek champions Panathinaikos 3-2 on Tuesday in Toronto. They are planning to go for the victory against Dallas as they prepare for their upcoming season, which kicks off with the Italian Super Cup against Roma on August 21.

“We’re a winning team," Benítez said. "We have to keep that mentality and try to keep winning. For me, it’s really important to start well. The commitment from our players is fantastic. Hopefully we can win from the beginning.”