Football

Remembering the Underrated Genius of Diego Milito

Remembering the Underrated Genius of Diego Milito

Sitting in an empty Estadio Presidente Peron, The Prince or El Principe, reminisced about his glorious years as one of Europe’s top marksmen.

“I had some unforgettable times at Inter Milan, it was probably the high point of my career where I was lucky enough to win trophies.”

17 years after his professional debut for Argentina’s Racing club, Diego Milito led one of the nation’s ‘Big Five’ to the national title – adding to his legend in South America after returning from Europe.

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Descended from Italian grandparents, his family emigrated to Argentina from Calabria as so many did almost 100 years ago. The two nations share a close history through the movement of people and love of football. It was in Italy where Milito grew into a star. After leaving his boyhood club Racing, he had two spells at Genoa that bookended an equally terrific time in Spain with Zaragoza. Over 198 domestic games, Milito netted 110 goals. His legend grew and grew and, when he finished his final Serie A season at Genoa with 24 goals, placing him second behind Zlatan Ibrahimović in the Capocannonieri scoring title, his big move arrived.

Six years after leaving his beloved Racing, Milito was sold to Jose Mourinho’s Inter for €28 million and he never looked back.

“I have very fond memories of Jose Mourinho both as a coach and a person. As a coach he is superb. He demands 100 percent from players.”

It was no secret that the two had an excellent relationship and it showed on the pitch. In the Derby della Madonnina against bitter rivals AC Milan he scored his first goal of the 2009/10 season. As Inter began to close in on Italy’s first ever ‘treble’, lethal Milito sealed his legend status. The number 22 scored the only goal in the Coppa Italia final over Roma, 11 days later he handed Inter the Scudetto on the final day of the season with a crucial finish, then came the Champions League final.

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Milito’s two strikes in the final against Bayern Munich, who are one of the favourites to win the competition this year when betting on the Champions League, saw Inter lift their first European Cup in 45 years. It completed the treble and the striker picked up the Man of the Match award.

Such was his outstanding season he was voted Best Player and Best Striker at the UEFA Club Football Awards. On winning the Champions League he said: “Celebrating that European cup win with Inter really was something wonderful, it was something we’d all dreamt about for a long time the celebrations were never ending.”

Milito was an exceptional striker but often overlooked and underrated. However, his goalscoring statistics speak for themselves and his career is befitting of his nickname, The Prince.

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