The last Italian Champions’ Cup begins with a man named Salvatore and a woman, his wife, whose name was Caterina. There is talk of many, many years ago. These two simple people lived in Terranova di Sibari, in the province of Cosenza, and of the Champions Cup (then, Champions League) they had never even heard of. They had a nephew named Diego, however born in Argentina on the roads of a geography that starts from the blood but ends up, as is inevitable, in the continents, bypassing the oceans. Diego, that is Diego Milito called “el principe” because of elegance, and because in South America if you don’t have a nickname you are nobody.
Moratti, Mourinho, Milito: three M under this cup
This prince of Calabrian descent still had the uniform of a footballer on him, and the cleats of the shoes tapped the linoleum of the press room of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, when in the late evening of May 22, 2010, now almost on May 23, he went down to say it was so happy and that maybe, maybe, who knows, he would have left Inter. But how? Do you score two goals out of two in the most important final of your life, and are you already opening a kind of public contract negotiation? It was not very princely, all this, although quite sincere, and in any case Diego would have stayed at Inter. Which in 2010 was, as everyone knows, Inter of the “triple”: Scudetto, Italian Cup and Champions League. No Italian team has ever done it before and no other team has succeeded for now. Only Juventus stopped on the doorstep, but found the door closed.
The dream team built in 4 moves
Perhaps it is right to start from the stadium, to tell that evening. The Bernabeu, that of Tardelli’s scream and the partisan president waving his pipe. It had happened 28 years earlier: some beautiful ghost of an Italy-Germany who basically reincarnated, at least a little, in Inter-Bayern Munich. No longer Paolo Rossi and Zoff, Bruno Conti and Altobelli, but the prince with his court, and a bizarre ruler named Mourinho. How much the Portuguese cried that evening. “I hope it’s not because of the sense of guilt,” said hotly Massimo Moratti who knew he had lost his Mou: the coach would have stayed in Madrid, to lead Real after taking his second Champions after the one with Porto. Second and last. Mourinho cried, Materazzi cried, hugged her, Beppe Baresi cried, Cambiasso cried a lot: even his rescue, now somewhat forgotten, made victory possible.
Bonolis: “My Triplete among the Germans in a pub in Vermont”
The game had been in balance for half an hour, until the advantage of Milito, brilliant in launching Sneijder head and then closing the triangle. Right from below, deadly. One to zero. The Bavarians were strong but not very strong. They had Ribery disqualified, and only Robben tried to ignite the team’s fantasy with Mueller, and a little to Olic. That team would have won the Champions League three years later, but Inter was stronger at Bernabeu than his real feat had accomplished by eliminating Messi’s Barcelona, Mourinho’s defensive tactical masterpiece, in the semifinal. Chelsea in the round of 16, CSKA Moscow in the quarter-finals. The decisive invention of the Portuguese was Eto’o, a hard worker, almost a masked full-back. “For Mourinho I would have done anything,” the attacker will say.
For the first time, the final was played on Saturday. And Inter tried to win it after 45 years, the shirt number of Mario Balotelli remained on the bench: in the end, that shirt waved it like a flag. Almost half a century is a lot of time, and Massimo Moratti certainly thought so, at last not only “Angelo’s son”, the heir to the dream of those Champions Cups, Herrera’s Inter, Sandrino Mazzola’s Milan, Suarez and Corso. A legacy that never seemed to come true.
Bayern tried to get back into the game, but there was never a clear feeling that it was going to happen. Just hot flashes, short firings. The Dutchman Robben repeated his movement endlessly, race to the right, conversion to the center, effect shot. A couple of times of thought Julio Cesar, then Cambiasso like that. Finally, Salvatore and Caterina’s nephew made his game perfect with the action of doubling, that dribbling in the running and then the right foot that opens like a petal. Two to zero. The night of life for Diego Milito. He began to cry a little too.