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Flashback: Inter Milan’s struggles in Europe once again illuminate Diego Milito’s genius

In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.

Having scored 29 goals and assisted 11 across all competitions in the 2008/09 campaign, as per Transfermarkt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sold to Barcelona, with Samuel Eto’o joining Internazionale as part of the deal.

The Cameroonian was coming off the back of a campaign in which he had just scored 36 goals in all competitions, including the opener in Barcelona’s Champions League final win against Arsenal.

If Inter fans had hope of anyone firing them to European glory it was probably him, but there was another, slightly more modest, yet still encouraging, striker signing the club made: Diego Milito.

The Argentinian had scored 26 goals in 32 games for Genoa the previous campaign, but the idea of him replacing the aforementioned bigger names at the highest level may have been a touch ambitious, given the difference in stature. Still, Jose Mourinho had struck gold for a reported fee of £14.10m per Transfermarkt.

He was the man to make the difference for Mourinho’s side on multiple occasions: the first came in a group game away against Dynamo Kyiv, when he scored an 86th-minute equaliser, before keeping the ball in play for Wesley Sneijder to snatch the lead at the death.

Then came his strike in the first leg of the first knockout round against Chelsea, where he bagged the opener by cutting inside John Terry and hitting the ball out of Petr Cech’s reach.

Another round followed and so did another goal. This time in the quarter-final against CSKA Moscow, he was the only one to hit the back of the net in the first leg when he struck the ball from outside the box, as Inter won 1-0 in both legs.

He was also integral in the win against Barcelona (and Ibrahimovic), setting up Sneijder and Maicon, before going on to clinically get the side’s third of the first leg with his head, a goal which proved to be vital as they lost the second leg 1-0.

This all led up to the final against Bayern Munich and once again, it was Milito who made the difference: he scored two goals, both with typically clinical finishes, as images of Javier Zanetti and his Inter teammates in tears appeared on screens across the world, it was Milito they had to thank for the jubilation.

There have been many great strikers in the club’s history, but in Milito’s very first season at the club, he had been the man to take Inter to Champions League glory. Given the Nerazzurri’s struggles in Europe with Antonio Conte slammed by journalists such as Nicky Bandini and Tancredi Palmeri for yesterday’s draw at Slavia Prague, as well as the fact that big-money signing Romelu Lukaku was said to have ‘toiled’ up front per the Daily Mail, the signing of Milito looks even smarter.

Will Inter ever conquer Europe again? Join the discussion by commenting below… 

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Flashback: Inter Milan’s struggles in Europe once again illuminate Diego Milito’s genius
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