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Thursday, July 5, 2012
A brief history of Inter Milan

Rob Smyth

Formed: 1908
European Cup/Champions League: 1963-64, 1964-65, 2009-10
European Cup Winners' Cup:: 1990-91, 1993-94, 1997-98
Serie A / Italian Football Championship: 18
Coppa Italia: 7
Super Coppa: 5

The story of Internazionale Milano centres on two glorious periods: in the Sixties, when they won consecutive European Cups, and in the present, with their record-equalling run of five consecutive titles culminating in an unprecedented Treble in 2010. They are also the only Italian club that has not been relegated from the top division.

Inter were formed in 1908 as a breakaway from AC Milan, because of a row over the lack of foreign players. They won their first scudetto in 1910, and for a time it seemed they would only win the league when the year ended in 0. There were titles in 1920 and 1930, but the pattern was broken when they added another in 1938. Inevitably, Inter also won the scudetto in 1940. This team - inspired by the their record scorer Giuseppe Meazza, the extraordinary inside forward after whom the club's ground is named - also claimed their first Italian Cup in 1939.

Consecutive titles in 1953 and 1954 were followed by almost a decade without a trophy, but then came the era of La Grande Inter. Under the Argentine coach Helleno Herrera, the high priest of catenaccio, Inter won three titles in four seasons from 1963 to 1966, as well as their first European Cups.

In 1964 they beat Real Madrid 3-1 in the final, while Benfica were conquered 1-0 a year later. They also won the Intercontinental Cup on both occasions, becoming the first team to regain the trophy. This remarkable Inter generation, which included the likes of Giacinto Fachetti, Sandro Mazzola and Luis Suarez, missed out on another European Cup when they lost 2-1 to Celtic in the final in 1967.

Inter never came close to extending that dominance, despite winning titles in 1971 and 1980 and Italian Cups in 1978 and 1982. Their next title was won mightily, in 1989, when they won 26 of their 34 games and, in the age of two points for a win, finished 11 points clear. The side included the future German World Cup-winning pair of Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Brehme, with Jurgen Klinsmann completing the holiest of trinities in the summer of 1989. They were captained by the unyielding stopper Giuseppe Bergomi, whose 758 appearances are an Inter record, albeit one under threat from the evergreen Javier Zanetti.

That quartet helped the club win the UEFA Cup for the first time in 1991 but, despite two further UEFA Cup wins in 1994 and 1998, the Nineties was generally a forgettable time. It remains the only decade in which Inter have failed to win Serie A, and in 1993-94 they finished only a point above the relegation zone.

Inter's long wait for another scudetto ended in unusual circumstances, when they were given the 2005-06 title by default because of Juventus and Milan's role in the Calciopoli scandal. Inter had finished third that season but, with a three-horse race turned briefly into a one-horse race, they romped to four more titles in a row.

In 2006-07, under Roberto Mancini, Inter smashed a couple of long-standing records by amassing 97 points and 30 wins, including 17 in a row. By the time Juventus and Milan were back to full strength, Inter were just too powerful - particularly when they were taken over by Jose Mourinho in 2008.

He made good on his promise to end a period of dismal underachievement in Europe. In 2010, as well as moving ahead of Milan's total of 17 titles, Inter won the European Cup for the first time in 45 years, defeating the holders Barcelona in an epic semi-final before beating Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final.

The Coppa Italia completed the first Treble by an Italian side - although Mourinho left for Madrid, his work done, and Rafael Benitez oversaw a six month spell of failure, despite bringing home the Club World Cup. Ex-Milan boss Leonardo took charge, but could not lead them to more than a Coppa Italia win and also chose to leave with the title heading to the other side of the city.

The rollercoaster of managerial departures continued with Cludio Ranieri's failure to get Inter up the table and, in March 2012, youth coach Andrea Stramaccioni was handed the reigns with a tough test on his hands.


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