Inter Milan is the club of Javier Zanetti, of Giacinto Facchetti. The club of cross-city rivalry with AC Milan and ‘Derby d’Italia’ gripes with Juventus. The club of perennial near-misses and of eventual climbs up the mountain. It’s also the club which has forever been open to the world, hence ‘Internazionale’.
Inter is also 115 years old today, having been formed on March 9, 1908 as a breakaway club from AC Milan. So to mark the anniversary, here’s a chance to reminisce about some of the Nerazzurri’s magnificent times as we go through their all-time greatest XI.
The absolute mainstay of the Inter side during Serie A’s international heyday, Zenga played almost 500 games for the club and won a league title and two Uefa Cups in his 12-year stay at San Siro.
Nobody has played more for the Nerazzurri than the Argentine, who was a virtual ever-present in 19 glorious years at the Giuseppe Meazza. Captained the club to 15 major titles including five Serie A wins and – most memorably – the Champions League in 2010. The number four is retired in his honour.
🔥 Javier Zanetti
Known as ‘Lo Zio’ (the uncle) thanks to the thick moustache he grew as a teenager, Bergomi played his entire career in Inter colours, becoming known as one of Italy’s greatest ever defenders. His fantastic reading of the game not only helped him succeed as a player but also helped him becoming a leading pundit when he hung up his boots.
The sweeper position could almost be named after Picchi, so well known was he for being its greatest exponent. As the captain of ‘La Grande Inter’, he led the Beneamata to three league titles and two European Cups in the 1960s.
Facchetti had the iconic number three shirt retired in his honour shortly after his 2006 death as a mark of respect for his one-club career both during and after his spell as a player. He won two European Cups and four league titles in an 18-year playing stint, then became a director and eventually the club president in a life dedicated to Inter.
No, not that one. The Spaniard was the world’s most expensive player after leaving Barcelona for Inter in 1961 and was an extraordinary part of the double European Cup-winning team of that decade. Scored 55 goals in 328 goals at San Siro and later had two spells as Inter coach.
The son of one of the greatest players in football history, Valentino Mazzola, who died in the Superga plane crash with his Torino team-mates in 1949, Sandro went on to mark his father’s honour with an incredible 17-year career with Inter. He scored two of the three goals which won the 1964 European Cup and netted 183 in total in a career which saw him capped 70 times by Italy.
Matthaus only spent four years at San Siro but he left an extraordinary legacy, winning the Ballon d’Or as an Inter player in 1990 and going on to score 23 goals from midfield in a truly special 1990-91 campaign. Won a Serie A and a Uefa Cup during his spell in Lombardy, and was also named Fifa World Player of the Year in 1991.
He might not even have made it to 100 appearances in his five years as an Inter player, but when he was fit and playing in those first couple of seasons he was simply unbelievable. He scored 34 goals in his first campaign and won the Serie A Player of the Year crown, and his clinching goal in the 1998 Uefa Cup final is repeated over and over and over again. Absolutely phenomenal.
Inter’s 2010 treble was Diego Milito’s treble. He scored 30 times in a side which was gradually built to feed off his strike rate, and in May of that year his scored four of the biggest goals in the club’s history. He netted the winner against Roma in the Coppa Italia final, then the sole goal at Siena to clinch Serie A on the last day before striking twice in the 2-0 Champions League final win over Bayern Munich. Seventeen days from heaven.
So good, they named the stadium after him and even AC Milan still play in it. The scorer of 284 goals in 408 games for the Biscione, Meazza was one of the most prolific Italian forwards ever and won two World Cups with the Azzurri to go with three Serie A titles with Inter. He later coached the club in three separate spells.
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