Author : Aditya Iyer
The end of an era is always something to look back on. There is both happiness and sadness there- the sadness is, of course, due to the fact that it is an end of something special; the happiness due to the fact that it is the beginning of something new. So it is at F. C. Internazionale Milano, where after 18 years at the helm, club President and CEO Massimo Moratti will step down from his role after confirming that he has sold off 70% of his share in the club.
When Moratti took over from Ernesto Pellegrini in 1995, Inter were stuck in the morass of mediocrity. They were seen as massive underachievers, and lagged behind in the popularity race that was dominated by bitter rivals AC Milan and Juventus. Moratti worked under the radar, never getting so much attention as his notorious colleague at AC Milan, Silvio Berlusconi, but that doesn’t mean he did not make an impact at Inter.
We take a look at the 5 most Iconic moments at Inter Milan under Massimo Moratti. A note to be made is that the list is in no particular order. The numbers are there only for ease of reading.
5) Signing of Javier Zanetti
MILAN, ITALY – AUGUST 18: Diego Milito (L) and Javier Zanetti (C) looks on during the TIM cup match between FC Internazionale Milano and AS Cittadella at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 18, 2013 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
It was perhaps written by the very hands of fate that Moratti’s first ever signing at Inter would be Javier Zanetti. The man who would go on to cement legendary status at the San Siro was bought by Moratti in 1995 from Argentine club Banfield as a fresh-faced 22 year old. Since then, he has gone on to make more than 840 appearances for the Nerazzuri, a record number of appearances for the team. Incidentally, the man who held the record before Zanetti was the very man who handed him the captain’s armband when he retired- Giuseppe Bergomi. The continued stay that Zanetti enjoys at Inter is a sign that no matter how commercialised football becomes, there is still that touch of human presence that cannot be taken away from it. Zanetti has won 16 trophies at Inter, out of which an astounding 15 came under his captaincy. Recognised by one and all as a consummate gentleman, Moratti will be remembered forever as the man who gave Italy and the world the opportunity to see this titan of the game.
4) First League Title Under His Reign
TURIN, ITALY – OCTOBER 02: Head coach of Galatasaray AS Roberto Mancini reacts during UEFA Champions League Group B match between Juventus and Galatasaray AS at Juventus Arena on October 2, 2013 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
It is said that adversity is the truest test of character. If that is true, then Moratti definitely passed this test with flying colours. When Moratti took up the post of President of the club, it had already been 6 years since Inter had won the Scudetto. When Inter last won it Lothar Matthaus, Andreas Brehme and Ramon Diaz were still at the club, and were then joined by Jurgen Klinsmann the next year; but it was to no avail, as Inter couldn’t successfully defend their title. But in three years’ time, Inter would have to worry about a lot more than lack of titles. At the end of the 1993-94 season, Inter finished a solitary point above the relegation zone. From being one of the most powerful teams in Italy to relegation scrappers in 3 years wasn’t what the Inter faithful wanted. At least they shone on the continental front, as they picked up UEFA Cup honours in 1991 and ’94.
It would be in 2004 that Inter Milan would finally see the light of day after their extended night, as they won the much coveted Italian Serie A title under new manager Roberto Mancini. Mancini brought in a raft of changes, and in his four years in charge at Inter, they won the title thrice. It is to be noted that the 2005-06 victory came courtesy of the ruling in the Calciopoli scandal- more on that later.
3) Mistakes and Fans’ Disapproval
CESENA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 30: Luigi Simoni head coach of AS Gubbio looks on during the TIM Cup match between AC Cesena and AS Gubbio at Dino Manuzzi Stadium on November 30, 2011 in Cesena, Italy. (Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)
It wasn’t all a bed of roses for Moratti at Inter though. After many promises of Inter rising to the top of Italian and European football by Moratti after succeeding Pellegrini, things were far from smooth at the start. Even though Inter broke the world transfer record twice in the 1990s- £19.5 million for Ronaldo, and £31 million for Christian Vieri, Inter failed to win a single domestic league title. It was the first, and only, decade in which they had failed to do so in their history.
Moratti drew the fans’ ire when he sacked much-loved manager Luigi Simoni in the 1998/99 season. The call could not have come at a worse time, since Simoni had just been awarded the Best Manager Award for 1998 a few days prior. A string of failed managerial appointments then followed, including Mircea Lucescu, Luciano Castellini, Roy Hodgson, Marcelo Lippi and marco Tardelli. Lucescu, Lippi and Tardelli just lasted one season each. Hodgson came back as a caretaker to the club whom he had previously managed two seasons from 1995 to ’97. Castellini just managed as caretaker for two games after Hodgson was evicted for the second time.
2) Alleged Involvement in the Calciopoli scandal
Juventus football supporters display a banner reading ‘Respect, Justice, Honesty, that’s why we are here’ against football club Inter Milan outside the Naples court palace on April 13, 2010 as former Juventus Football Club general manager Luciano Moggi (unseen) is set to face a court case over his alleged involvement in a 2006 corruption scandal
While initially not included in the list of teams that were primarily indicted in the 2006 Calciopoli scandal in Italy, further developments later of indicated that Inter might not have been as innocent as it was first thought. Moratti had vehemently denied any wrongdoings on Inter’s part in the 2006 scandal, and the media had no proof to state otherwise. It was a year later, in 2007, that the first signs of smoke appeared. Wiretappings were published that had former coach Marcello Lippi on tape saying that Moratti(owner) and Mancini(then trainer) must be made to pay. This, of course, was inconclusive in and of itself.
In 2010, further wiretappings were presented in the Calciopoli trial in Naples that showed that AC Milan and Inter Milan executives were also involved. The tape named Adriano Galliani of Milan, and Moratti and Giacinto Facchetti of Inter. Matters got worse in 2011 when the Inter leaders were alleged to have committed fraud, and were being closely scrutinised. But, citing insufficient proof and and the fact that “no court could confirm this allegations since all facts are covered by statute of limitation”, Inter were ultimately let off the hook.
1) Winning the treble
It is, arguably, the crown jewel in Moratti’s treasury: the treble of 2009-10. Under the ever-hungry Jose Mourinho, Inter were making progress in leaps and bounds. By the time the 2009-10 season started, Inter had won the title in the previous two seasons- the second of which was in Mourinho’s first season in charge at the San Siro. Of course, Inter were drawing criticism from some quarters for too readily embracing Mourinho’s pragmatic and workmanlike football philosophy, but they were definitely not lacking in the trophies department. They had finished the 2008-09 season a whopping 10 points clear of second-placed AC Milan, and the Inter fans were beginning to believe something special was in the offing this season, too.
Oh, how right they were.
Even before the season had started, Mourinho and Moratti were laying the foundations of a good campaign. They signed Diego Milito, Thiago Motta, Wesley Sneijder and made the bumper cash-plus-player deal with Barcelona- trading Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Samuel Eto’o and £35 million. One sad note was the retirement of legend Luis Figo, who had decided to hang up his boots at the age of 36.
As the season drew to a close though, Inter Milan fans were delirious with joy. Their team had won the Scudetto yet again, defeated AS Roma 1-0 to win the Coppa Italia and beaten Bavarian giants Bayern Munich 2-0 to claim the UEFA Champions League. Milito finished the season as top scorer, having scored 20 goals in 52 games for Inter. Wesley Sneijder elevated himself to the position of one of the best midfielders in the world for the performances he put in that season.