Soccer (or football) is a big deal in Italy and Inter Milan is one of the biggest teams in the country. Inter is also the only Italian team never to be relegated to second division, Serie B. Founded in 1908, Inter won its first scudetto, or domestic league championship in 1910. Since then, the team and its history have been strongly intertwined with the Moratti family, who have owned Inter in two different periods of the team’s history. First, Angelo Moratti, an oil Italian magnate, purchased the team, creating a true soccer power that dominated the scene for almost a decade. It was the 1960s, and Italy was right in the middle of an economic boom: Inter stole the show from Juventus and A.C. Milan to become the first Italian team to win back to back a European championship, a record that lasted many years, until A.C. Milan achieved the same in the 80s.
After the successes of Angelo Moratti’s team, coached by the iconic Helenio Herrera, the greatness of Inter Milan faded slowly away. There were wins from time to time, but it wasn’t until Mr. Ernesto Pellegrini bought the team that Inter came back strong. The coach at the time was Italian legend Giovanni Trapattoni, and the team was led by German star Lothar Matthaus and by goalkeeper Walter “Spiderman” Zenga, who years later would come to the States to end his career playing for New England. Inter in those years also had World Champion Giuseppe “The Uncle” Bergomi as captain, and won the Italian league with the most points ever recorded in the history of Serie A. (Sidenote: The Italian domestic league championship is decided by points not a post-season playoff. Each team plays one another twice with 3 points awarded for wins and 1 point for ties.)
After that historic year, Inter entered a long, dark period in their history where they had to suffer the indignity of watching the triumphs of Juventus and city rival A.C. Milan, while being relegated to the sidelines. The agony continued even when Angelo Moratti’s son, Massimo, brought Inter back under his family’s umbrella. Massimo, probably the most passionate of all Inter’s supporters, joined forces with Telecom Italia major stockholder Marco Tronchetti Provera to purchase the team. The investments were huge, going way above the billion dollar mark, and a lot of the money went to buying what was thought to be the best players around. Coaches also came and went, but despite the big names and big money Inter couldn’t win.
Things seemed to be looking up when Hector Cooper arrived at Inter. The well-liked Latin American coach set about giving the blue-and-black (nerazzurri) a structure and style that served the team well, while superstar Christian Vieri served up goal after goal. (Vieri’s transfer from Lazio to Inter in 1999 was the most ever paid for a football player at the time). Despite all of Cooper’s good work, and Vieri’s goals, Inter somehow managed to lose the championship. On the last day of the season, Inter lost to Lazio, awarding the title to come-from-behind Juventus. Ronaldo, then widely considered the best player in the world, cried like a baby on national television. The loss was horrible for Inter supporters especially because not long before Juventus once again won the league title over Inter, this time after a very controversial game that included the referee giving Juventus a very generous, if not downright dubious, penalty kick (and this after not granting one to Inter earlier in the game). Veteran coach Gigi Simoni was at Inter at the time, and was said to have never fully recovered from the experience of that loss.
The losses to Juventus sparked an increased rivalry between the two teams, which in 2006 erupted into one of the biggest scandals in Italian football history. Juventus, Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina where found guilty in the calciopoli scandal. Juventus, for one, was relegated to Serie B and stripped of one Serie A title which was awarded to Inter.
Since the scandal exploded, things have turned around at Inter. In fact, these years have been the most successful in recent memory. The problem was that despite starting to win Serie A scudetti, Inter still couldn’t win in Europe. It was clear that only winning the European Champions League would solidify Inter’s status as a world class team. To rectify the situation, Massimo Moratti opened his wallet once again, this time luring the “Special One,” coach Jose Mourinho to replace Roberto Mancini as coach of Inter. With Mourinho at the helm, Inter won two more league titles, but most importantly also won the 2009 Champions League, something Inter had not achieved since the time of Angelo Moratti.
In the season 2009-2010 Inter pulled off a historic treble–winning Champions League, Serie A and the Italian Cup. It is not an easy feat to achieve and, finally, Inter fans saw their team mentioned in the same breath as the other greats in the world like Barcelona and Juventus. After that Mourinho left for Real Madrid, and was replaced by Spaniard Rafael Benitez first, Leonardo later.
In 2010 things got even better, as Inter completed a quintuple, the forth team in the World to do so.
In 2013 70% of the Inter Milan capital was bought by an Indonesian company, and Erick Thohir became the new President. In 2016 a Chinese group bought 68,55% of the capital. After 17 years Massimo Moratti is officially out of the club.
While Inter is often criticized by Italians as having only international players on their roster, but others feel that this is just the team living up to its official name: Internazionale!