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Best Inter XI of All Time

Monday18 January 2021 | 14:30
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The rich history of Inter Milan is full of top players and football legends. In this article, we’ll review the best XI of Milan’s giant team.

The philosophy of Inter was to gather the best players in the world regardless of what country they come from. Many football legends were once one of the "brothers of the world". It was almost impossible to choose 11 players among the infinite stars of Inter Milan history. Consider the goalkeeper position for example. That means you have to choose between Francesco Toldo, Gianluca Pagliuca, Júlio César and Walter Zenga. 

For every one of the

best Inter Milan XI of all time

, there are so many great choices that it is so difficult to pick one. However, this is the list of Inter Milan best XI of all time and it is probably one of the greatest lineups of football.

Here is the list of Inter Milan best XI of all time:

The Inter faithful will be eager to return to their former heights, as they have witnessed historic sides wear their famous black and blue kit over the years.

Goalkeeper — Walter Zenga

Walter Zenga was a long-time goalkeeper for

Inter Milan

and Italian national team. A physically strong and athletic goalkeeper, Zenga was nicknamed “Hang Glider”, due to his excellent shot-stopping abilities and positioning and his speed. Zenga joined Inter Milan in 1982 and was a substitute for Ivano Bordon. After Bordon’s move to

Sampdoria

, he became Inter’s starting goalkeeper in the 1983–84 season. He conceded only 23 goals, better than any other goalkeepers in that season. His performance was so good that it led him to being called up to Italy’s squad for the 1986 World Cup.

In 1987, he became the Serie A footballer of the year and Internazionale player of the year. In 1988–89 season, Zenga was playing alongside Alessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Andreas Brehme, Lothar Matthäus, and the Roman Diaz. They won the league title with a record trail of 58 points. Zenga ended the season with just 19 goals. 

As one of the

Inter best 11 of all time

, he became the IFFHS world’s best goalkeeper for three consecutive years from 1989 to 91. With Inter, they won the 1989 Italian Super cup, and the 91 and 94 UEFA cups. Also, he was the 1990 UEFA goalkeeper of the year. He was Inter Milan’s goalkeeper and played in 328 games until 1994, when he moved to Sampdoria. He was truly one of the Inter all-time greatest XI. After a few years he became a manager in many teams including

Cagliari

and Sampdoria.

Right Back — Javier Zanetti 

Javier Zanetti has played in both right and left back positions and even as a midfielder. He's done such a great job in his career that Inter retired his number four after his retirement. He's now the vice president of the club. Zanetti spent almost all of his football career in Inter Milan. 

The Argentinian legend played 19 seasons under 19 different coaches in Inter and had tremendous records and awards. As one of the

Inter Milan best ever XI

, Zanetti was the official captain of the team for 14 years since 2001. His outstanding physical attributes were on top even at the age of 41. Inter won 16 major trophies during the Zanetti era and except for 1998 UEFA Cup he was the captain that lifted the trophies. Five Scudetti, four

Coppa Italia

and Supercoppa Italiana are his domestic championships with Inter. In the 2009–10 season, he won the UEFA Champions League alongside the two major domestic trophies making Inter the first and only Italian club to do a Treble. 

As one of the All-time greatest XI of Inter Milan, Zanetti holds the record for the most appearances with 618 caps in Serie A and 858 in total. He has the fourth place of all time most appearances in Serie A and he's the only non-Italian player among the top 15 players. Another record that Zanetti holds is the most

Champions League

appearances as a captain.

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Defender — Tarcisio Burgnich

Tarcisio Burgnich is one of the best Italian defenders and one of the

Inter Milan greatest XI of all time

. Burgnich has won titles with

Juventus

and

Napoli

, but it was Inter that showed his true potential. Tarcisio Burgnich was a key player in La Grande Inter in the 60's. His multiple defensive abilities helped Helenio Herrera operate his Catenaccio system. Inter captain Armando Picchi gave him the nickname "La Roccia" (The Rock) because of his imposing physique, consistency, and aggressive playing style. 

During 12 seasons as Inter player he won four Scudetti and more importantly two consecutive European Cup trophies. Burgnich is one of the top ten players with most appearances for Inter with 467 caps. As one of the best Inter XI of all time, Tarcisio Burgnich was a successful national team player too. In 1968, Burgnich was in the Azzurri squad in their first European Championship. Italy won the only championship of the tournament on home soil that year. 

Two years later in 1970 Azzurri defeated

West Germany

in the World Cup semifinals and reached the final. The match is called the "Game of the Century", where Italy defeated West Germany 4–3 in extra time and Tarcisio Burgnich scored a vital goal. However, they lost the final to

Brazil

. Burgnich won two intercontinental Cups with Inter, both defeating Independiente two times in a row.

Defender — Armando Picchi

Armando Picchi was the captain and also heart of the defense of La Grande Inter. Inter in 60's was an example of defensive tactics of football history. As one of the

Inter all-time greatest XI

, Picchi had a big role in that team. Alongside Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti, they formed an impenetrable defense line. Picchi mainly was in sweeper or libero role. Libero is free from man marking but if an opponent somehow breaks through the defensive line, it's libero's duty to clear the danger from the area. 

Picchi's pace and firm physical strength and interception skills made him a perfect fit for the role and one of the best Inter XI of all time. Picchi also had a great tactical mind and leadership spirit that made a great captain out of him. Due to his non defender roles in his early career, Picchi was occasionally helpful for counter attacks. Inter won the 1962–63 scudetto while Bruno Bolchi was the captain. 

In 1963–64 season, Inter won the European Cup defeating

Real Madrid

in the final and Armando lifted the trophy as the captain. In the next season Picchi won scudetto, European Cup, and Intercontinental Cup with Inter. They won the European and international titles in upcoming season. In 1965–66 season Picchi won the last title of his career and it was the Italian league championship for the third time.

Left Back — Giacinto Facchetti

Giacinto Facchetti played as a defender for Inter Milan from 1960 to 1978 and also became the club’s chairman from 2004 until his death in 2006. As one of the greatest full backs and

all-time greatest XI of Inter Milan

, he was known for making attacking runs down the left flank and get into good offensive positions, which allowed him to either score or assist goals. 

Facchetti's pace, power, excellent physical and technical traits made him an offensive full back or wing back. In 18 years, he played in 629 games and scored 75 goals for Helenio Herrera’s Grande Inter. He won four Serie A titles, two European Cups, two International cups, and a Coppa Italia with the team. 

In 1965 he won the Ballon d’Or as runner up and he was in the FIFA world cup All Star Team in 1970. His name was also in the UEFA European championship team of the tournament. Pele named him one of the top 125 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA’s 100th anniversary celebration. He truly was one of the best Inter XI of all time and in 2019 he entered the Inter Milan Hall of Fame. After his death in 2006, he became one of the Golden Foot “Football Legends”. 

Center Midfielder – Esteban Cambiasso

Esteban Cambiasso was an Argentine midfielder and one of the

Inter Milan best XI of all time

. He was a versatile, consistent and modern footballer, who was capable of playing in several midfield and defensive positions. Before Inter, Cambiasso was in Real Madrid for two seasons. He helped them win the UEFA super cup, and the International cup in 2002, and the La Liga and Supercopa de Espana in 2003, also reaching the UEFA champions league semifinals.

In 2004 he joined Inter Milan and helped the club to win the Coppa Italia. In his second season in Italy, he became the Pirata d’Oro that is the Inter Milan player of the year and again Inter won the Coppa Italia title and also, Supercoppa Italiana. That was the first season of five consecutive Serie A titles for Inter. 

In his 10 years in Inter he played 315 times and scored 41 goals. He was very important in the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League win as well and helped Inter to win in the final against

Bayern

. Inter also won the FIFA club world cup, Supercoppa Italiana, and Coppa Italia in the same year. As one of the best Inter XI of all time, he became the FIFA FIFPro World XI nominee in 2010. In 2014 he left Italy and joined

Leicester City

, but after a season he joined

Olympiacos

and retired after two seasons. In 2020, Esteban Cambiasso’s name entered to the Inter Milan Hall of Fame.

Center Midfielder – Lothar Matthäus

Lothar Matthaus is a German football manager and former player. Matthäus is a member of the FIFA 100 list of the greatest living football players chosen by Pelé. Diego Maradona said of Matthäus, "he is the best rival I've ever had. I guess that's enough to define him", in his book. A versatile and complete player, Matthäus is regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time and one of the

best Inter XI of all time

.  He was renowned for his perceptive passing, positional sense, well-timed tackling, as well as powerful shooting. During his career, he usually played as a box-to-box midfielder, although late in his career he played as a sweeper.

Matthäus and Bayern teammate Andreas Brehme signed with Inter Milan in 1988, winning the Scudetto in 1988–89 during their first season, and the Italian Super cup that year as well. Matthäus continued to enjoy further success with Inter, winning the UEFA Cup in 1991 and being named FIFA World Player of the Year.

During four seasons in Inter, He played 115 games and scored 40 goals. In his last year in Inter, he became the Inter Milan player of the year. Among his awards, Matthäus won the 1990 World cup silver ball, 1990 Onze d’Or, and 1991 Onze de bronze. 

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Center Attacking Midfielder – Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez was a Spanish footballer and manager. He played in the midfield position for

Deportivo de La Coruña

, España Industrial,

FC Barcelona

, Inter Milan, Sampdoria, and the Spain national team. Between 1955 and 1961, Suarez was a regular in Barcelona alongside Ladislao Kubala, Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, Ramallets and Evaristo. Helenio Herrera was the coach until 1961. In 1961, Suarez became the world most expensive footballer and moved to Inter Milan for 250 million Italian lire or 142k pounds. The move saw him follow his mentor Helenio Herrera and became one of the Inter best 11 of all time. 

Luis Suarez was noted for his elegant, fluid, graceful style of play. Nicknamed El Arquitecto (The Architect), he was noted for his perceptive passing and explosive shot, and in 1960, he became the only Spanish-born player to win the Ballon d'Or. In nine years playing for Inter, Suarez made 328 appearances and scored 55 goals. He helped the team win three consecutive Serie A titles, two European cups and two International cups. 

In Herrera’s Grande Inter, he reached his prime as a deep lying playmaker and became one of the best Inter XI of all time. He played a pivotal role in the success of Herrera's Inter Milan side, and was one of the primary creative forces in the squad, due to his skill on the ball, vision, and passing range. He retired as a player in 1973, after three seasons at Sampdoria.

Center Attacking Midfielder – Sandro Mazzola

Alessandro “Sandro” Mazzola was an Italian footballer who played as a forward or attacking midfielder for Internazionale and the Italy national team. Mazzola is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers and one of the Inter Milan greatest XI of all time. 

He was capable of playing in several advanced positions. Known for his defensive work-rate, and acrobatic ability in the air, he initially played as a central midfielder in his youth, known as the "mezzala" role in Italian, but was later primarily used as an inside-right under Herrera. He was also used as a center-forward, winger, main striker, or even a supporting striker on occasions. 

Like some other members of the best Inter XI of all time, he was in Herrera’s Grande Inter. From 1960 to 1977, he played 568 times and scored 161 goals for Inter in all competitions. He was the 1936–64 European cup top goal scorer with seven goals and the 1964–65 Serie A top goal scorer with 17 goals. 

In 1971, following his final Serie A title and his performances in Europe, he placed second in the Ballon d'Or, behind Johan Cruyff. This was the closest he ever came to winning the award, and the first time he was shortlisted as a finalist. Mazzola retired from football in 1977 and as one of the 1967 FIFA XI, he entered the Italian football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Forward — Ronaldo

Ronaldo is one of the best footballers of all time. Ronaldo came to Milan with a record-breaking transfer from Barcelona. Barcelona had already broken the transfer record once for signing Ronaldo from

PSV Eindhoven

. He became the second player after Maradona that breaks the transfer record twice.

In his first season of Serie A, Ronaldo submitted a magnificent performance and scored 25 goals in 32 league matches. In his first season, Inter won the UEFA Cup and Ronaldo was the man of the final match against

Lazio

. He scored one of the most memorable goals in football rounding the goalkeeper with his incredible technique.

That final was held in Paris, where Ronaldo returned to in a couple of months for the FIFA World Cup. In 1998 World Cup, Ronaldo won the Golden Ball for best player, while he was the top assist provider of the tournament. However, he missed the final and Brazil lost to

France

. At the time, Ronaldo was the best player in the world, winning the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Best Player. He was also top scorer and captain of Inter but something awful happened. A very serious knee injury made him miss an entire season. 

In 2001–02, the phenomenon returned to the field and caped in a few matches. At the end of the season, he went to Japan for the 2002 World Cup, where he showed His scoring skills and made Brazil the champion of the world and won another Ballon d'Or. He scored 49 goals in total 68 league matches for Inter. Although due to the injury his journey with Inter was not long, the quality of his presence got him to the list of the best Inter XI of all time.

Forward — Giuseppe Meazza

Giuseppe Meazza is one of the best Italian players of all time. Italy is best known for great defenders but Meazza was a Brazilian striker inside. Meazza won the very first Serie A season with Inter in 1929–30 and He was the top scorer with 31 goals. He won two more Scudetti and Capocannoniere in 1930s. 

He is the fourth Serie A goal scorer of all time with 216 goals. Meazza also holds the record for the youngest player to score 100 goals in Serie A. The last man of the Inter Milan best ever XI, has the record for most hat tricks in the Italian league with 17 hat tricks. His awards and glory are not limited to Serie A.

Meazza was the first Italian football player who became famous worldwide. He helped Italy win two consecutive World Cups in 1934 and 1938. In the first one he was the best player in the tournament and in the second, he was the captain leading Italy towards victory. Meazza is the second all-time goal scorer of the Azzurri. 

Thirteen seasons in Serie A wearing Nerazzurri jersey, Meazza scored 284 goals in all competitions. As Inter's all-time goal scorer he is the first choice for the best Inter XI of all time. In 1980 the Milan Stadium, mostly known as San Siro, was named after the Italian legend Stadio Giuseppe Meazza by the Municipality of Milan.

 

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