7 of Inter’s Best Big Game Players of the Modern Era

Internazionale. One of football’s iconic clubs.

From the past players to the former glories. From the stadium to the kit colours, everything about this grand old club screams majesty and elegance.

By Inter’s standards, their more recent history has seen them in somewhat of a crisis. Their bulging trophy cabinet hasn’t been added to since the 2011 Coppa Italia, they’ve not finished higher than fourth in Serie A for eight years, and when they’ve actually managed to qualify for the Champions League they’ve only reached the quarter-finals once.

However, that’s not to say that they’re a club on a permanent decline. Football has its peaks and troughs.

Inter appear to be on the up under new boss Antonio Conte and let’s not forget, prior to Juventus deciding they were going to steamroll ​Serie A every year (a dynasty which was ironically kicked off under the stewardship of Conte) Inter were the Italian powerhouse.

Prior to their recent slump, the Nerazzurri won just about everything there is to win, both domestically and in Europe. It’s no surprise that our list of Inter’s big game players of the modern era is strewn with individuals from the first decade of the century.

Diego Milito

Diego Milito

Eyebrows were raised in 2009 when then Inter boss Jose Mourinho threw the proverbial sink at fellow Italian side Genoa to secure the signing of 30-year-old Milito.

Having finished second top scorer in Serie A the previous season, his credentials in Italy were not to be knocked, but the striker (whose best days were arguably behind him) had often failed to cut it at the top level. Milito struggled to make an impression at international level with Argentina and had never been played for one of Europe’s so called ‘big’ clubs.

The deal was a big one, Milito and Thiago Motta arriving while €30m, a young Leonardo Bonucci, Robert Aquafresca and a couple of other players headed to Genoa. With the club unlikely to recoup any money for the 30-year-old, what was Mourinho thinking?!

Champions of Italy and Europe in Milito’s maiden season, that’s what he was thinking. The ageing marksman was unstoppable, forming a ‘Gerrard and Torres-like’ partnership with Wesley Sneijder as Inter ran riot.

Most Clutch Moment: 2009/10 ​Champions League final. The pinnacle of any player’s club career. Milito proved he’s the man for the big occasion, twice showing the coolest head in the stadium to calmly slot home with the eyes of the world on him. A masterclass from both Milito and Mourinho.

Zlatan Ibrahimović

Inter Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibr

Is it irrational to think that he’ll come looking for me if he’s not included in this list?

Ego aside, the man is a colossus and enjoyed arguably the greatest football of his career between 2006-09 in an Inter shirt, bagging three consecutive Serie A titles before moving to Barcelona.

It’s fair to say he sullied his reputation at Inter by signing for city rivals AC a few seasons later, but with 66 goals in 117 games and three league titles, Zlatan will go down in Inter folklore – like he will at every club he’s ever played for.

Most Clutch Moment: Just a point separated ​Inter and Roma going into the final day of the 2007/08 Serie A season. The Nerazzurri knew anything less than a win against Parma could see the title slip away. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Zlatan stepped up and bagged a brace to give his side a 2-0 win and with it their 16th Scuedetto.

Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto'o

There’s no denying that when you think of Samuel Eto’o, you think of ​Barcelona (or maybe one of the mad early-2000s Cameroon kits). However, Eto’o enjoyed the most prolific season of his career in an Inter shirt.

Perhaps the Cameroon international left Barça with a point to prove, after the Catalan giants’ hierarchy deemed the aforementioned Ibrahimović to be worth a reported £59m more than the man who had notched 130 goals in 199 games for Barcelona.

Eto’o certainly proved his point, averaging more than a goal every other game in an Inter shirt in a two-season spell which saw him notch 37 goals in one campaign.

Most Clutch Moment: Two strikes against Palermo in the 2011 Coppa Italia final handed his team a 3-1 win, a triumph which remains the club’s last piece of silverware to this day.

Júlio César

Inter Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Julio

A relatively unknown quantity when he signed for the Serie A giants in 2005, Júlio César went on to establish himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.

Having not tasted league success for 16 years, Inter went on to dominate Italian football, notching five consecutive Scudetti between 2005-10, and it’s no coincidence that this period of domination kicked off upon the arrival of the Brazilian goalkeeper.

He played 300 games for the club before moving to the Premier League with QPR.

Most Clutch Moment: When Lionel Messi skips past a couple of defenders and opens his body up to curl the ball with his left foot into the bottom corner, you can pretty much put the ball on the centre spot and get ready to restart the game.

When the little magician tried this against Júlio César, he wasn’t so lucky. The Brazilian pulled off an absolute wonder save in the semi-finals of the 2010 Champions League, which ultimately saw his team progress to the final before winning the competition.

Javier Zanetti

Inter Milan's Argentinian defender and c

Mr Inter.

Zanetti joined the club in 1995 and was made captain in 2001. With 858 appearances, he holds the record for most games played in an Inter shirt.

Five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins, four Supercoppa Italiana wins, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League, there’s nothing Zanetti hasn’t won at Inter.

Now director of football at the club, the former Argentina international will live long in the hearts of Inter fans.

Most Clutch Moment: Having never taken a penalty in his senior career, Zanetti stepped up to secure penalty shootout victory over Roma in the 2008 Supercoppa Italiana. It doesn’t get much more Zanetti than that.

Wesley Sneijder

Wesley Sneijder

Signed from Real Madrid in 2009 after a relatively underwhelming stint in La Liga, Sneijder went on to become an integral part of the Mourinho side which ruled the roost both domestically and in Europe.

The Dutchman’s Inter career was cut short through injury before he moved on to Galatasaray, but the four years he spent in Italy proved to be the most fruitful of his career.

Most Clutch Moment: His performance in the 2009/10 Champions League final. Milito took the plaudits for his brace, but Sneijder was undoubtedly the architect of the victory, running rings around Bastian Schweinsteiger and grabbing an assist for Milito’s first of the night.


Ronaldo Nazario - Soccer Player

When Ronaldo signed for Inter in 1997, who could have envisaged that the 20-year-old Brazilian wonderkid had probably already seen his best days?

However, that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t absolutely unplayable in an Inter shirt. In an injury-ravaged five years in Italy, Ronaldo bagged 59 goals in 99 games.

His spell at Inter provided little in the way of silverware, leaving with just a UEFA Cup triumph to his name, but that was through no fault of the Brazilian as he regularly lit up Serie A, one of the meanest leagues in the game.

Most Clutch Moment: His UEFA Cup final goal in the club’s win over Lazio was quintessential Ronaldo. The youngster didn’t even have to touch the ball to put Lazio goalkeeper Luca Marchegiani on his backside, feinting right then left before waltzing round the hapless Italian, before slotting home to confirm UEFA Cup glory.