Javier Zanetti (1995-) - This brilliant Argentine wing-back signed for Inter in 1995 from Banfied and has been consistently world class for well over a decade. Now at the age of 34, Zanetti has showed no signs of slowing down. A versatile player who can occupy virtually every position in defence and midfield with distinction, ‘The Tractor’ has made over 400 Serie A appearances for the club, winning two Scudetti and a UEFA Cup. Is also Argentina’s most capped-ever player, and played at France 98’ and Korea/Japan 2002.
Giuseppe Bergomi (1980-99) - Before Zanetti, and after Facchetti and Mazzola, the symbol of Inter was Bergomi. A world-class defender, Bergomi man-marked West German legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge out of the game in the 1982 World Cup Final while he was just 18-years-old. The moustached stopper holds the Inter all-time appearance record, having played 758 times for the club. He won the Scudetto once and the UEFA Cup three times during an immaculate career. Such was his brilliance that one year before he retired he was called up to Italy’s France 98’ squad after years in the international wilderness – he did not disappoint.
Tarciso Burgnich (1962-74) - Burgnich was part of Helenio Herrera’s ‘La Grande Inter’ team that dominated Italian and European football in the 1960s. An aggressive, no-nonsense defender, Burgnich played a key role in Inter’s catenaccio system. He won four Scudetti, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups, while he also played 68 times for Italy, appearing at three World Cups, and winning the European Championships in 1968.
Giacinto Facchetti (1960-78) - Facchetti (pictured above) is undoubtedly the most symbolic player in the history of Inter Milan, this exemplified by the fact that his iconic No.3 shirt has been retired in his honour. A gentleman on-and-off the pitch, Facchetti was a magnificent marker and made numerous marauding runs down the left flank. He won the same major honours as his defensive colleague Burgnich, and with 94 Italian caps to his name, he was the all-time appearance holder for the Azzurri until Dino Zoff broke his record.
Gabriele Oriali (1970-83) - This midfield hardman was very similar to Gennaro Gattuso today; he didn’t possess the greatest technical ability but was excellent at stopping opposition players and breaking up attacks. In 12 years at Inter he won two Scudetti and two Italian Cups. He was also a runner-up in the 1972 European Cup, spending most of the final against Ajax marking Johan Cruijff. Oriali, like Nerazzurri team-mate Bergomi, played an important role in Italy’s 1982 World Cup triumph, and in total he won 28 caps for the Azzurri.
Lothar Matthaus (1988-92) - Legendary midfielder, whose longevity in top-class professional football almost matched that of Milan’s Paolo Maldini. He joined Inter in 1988 from Bayern Munich and immediately led the club to the Scudetto in his first season. A complete midfield player, who was superb both offensively and defensively, he was part of the wonderful German trio with Andreas Brehme and Jurgen Klinsmann. Matthaus was FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991, and won a record 150 caps for the German national team, captaining them to World Cup glory at Italia 90’.
Mario Corso (1957-73) - Corso was another key member of La Grande Inter team, and his nickname was ‘God’s left foot’. A midfielder of incalculable ability, Corso could at times be lazy and unfocused, however his genius always shone through. Corso was one of Calcio’s legendary free-kick takers, with his most famous possibly coming against Liverpool in the 1965 European Cup semi-final. Such was his talent that it is said that the whole stadium used to go quiet when he received the ball, while team-mate Carlo Tagnin said of the star: “If Corso was on form, we always won.”
Luis Suarez (1961-70) - It is often said that Spanish players have never succeeded in Italy, however Suarez more than made up for the numerous failures from his fellow countrymen. The midfielder signed for Inter for a world record fee in 1961 and over the next nine years helped the team to three Scudetti, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. He was twice Ballon d’Or winner, once with Inter, and also lifted the 1964 European Championships with Spain, his country’s only-ever major international honour to date.
Sandro Mazzola (1961-77) - Son of Torino great Valentino Mazzola, who was killed in the Superga air disaster in 1949, Sandro Mazzola proved to be just as much of a legend as his father. Mazzola made his debut during the infamous 1-9 defeat to Juventus in 1961, but he scored Inter’s only goal. During the next 16 years he would win every major club honour in the game. A brilliantly skillful and creative midfielder, who could also play up-front, he scored 114 goals in 418 games. He played 70 times for Italy, however his time with the Azzurri was clouded by the struggles to find a system to incorporate both him and the equally outstanding Gianni Rivera into the same team.
Giuseppe Meazza (1927-40) - Italy’s World Cup-winning Coach from 1934 and 1938, Vittorio Pozzo, said of Meazza: “To have him in your team meant to start 1-0 up”. Meazza was the first Italian football superstar, and was blessed with extraordinary technique, he was a brilliant passer, both-footed, and a lethal goal-scorer, hitting the back of the net 245 times in 348 games for Inter. He won three Scudetti at the club and was Italy’s star man at the aforementioned World Cup successes in 34’ and 38’. He famously scored a crucial penalty in the 38’ semi-final against Brazil as his shorts were falling down, while he also slept at a brothel the night before a match. When he died in 1979, the Milan stadium at San Siro was named after him.
Zanetti Bergomi Burgnich Facchetti
Matthaus Suarez Corso
Zanetti Bergomi Burgnich Facchetti
Matthaus Suarez Corso
--Carlo Garganese, Goal.com