Remembering Diego Milito's treble season with Inter MilanDiego Milito might have been one of the most underrated strikers of his generation and his exploits over the years, in all the different clubs he played for, don't often get the credit they deserve, especially when we consider the role that the Argentinian had during Inter Milan's historical treble year in the 2009/10 season.
Signed by then-manager Jose Mourinho in the summer of 2009, Milito proved to be instrumental in the club's success and quickly became a fan-favorite due to his work rate, passion and knack for scoring very important goals at the right time.
Diego Milito going for another goal in Inter
But what were Milito's contributions to Inter's treble season? Here's everything you need to know about it:
His career before InterWhen it comes to the career of Diego Milito before reaching his zenith with Inter Milan, it is interesting to notice that he was always a notorious goalscorer, but he was never the most popular or hottest prospect in the market and, even more importantly, had never played in a big club during his time in Europe.
He started out in his Native Argentina and played for one of the biggest clubs in the country, Racing Club de Avellaneda, scoring 37 goals in 148 games from 1999 to 2003. Not an exceptional record, but it was enough for him to become one of the supporters' favorite players and to earn himself a move to Europe, specifically to Serie B side Genoa.
While the Italian side would become much more prominent in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the reality is that they were lower division side by the time Milito arrived in 2003, but he proved to be quite the consistent goalscorer there, making 34 goals in 62 games across two seasons. This was enough to move to Spanish side Real Zaragoza, where he really started to shine with 61 goals in 125 matches in three seasons, becoming one of the best strikers in La Liga.
Despite a lot of interest from bigger clubs, he decided to come back to Genoa in the 2008/09 season as he felt he had unfinished business there and, now as a Serie A side, Milito gave one of the best seasons of his career with 26 goals in 32 games in one of the best leagues in the world. He had proven himself as a very reliable striker in his last four seasons and this is how he got the call from Jose Mourinho to sign for Inter Milan in 2009 and finally try his luck in one of the biggest teams in the world.
Inter MilanThe Inter Milan side Milito signed for was in a very interesting situation. While they had won the Serie A title three years in a row, the team was constantly underperforming in the Champions League and it had become the club's obsession to finally win the trophy for the first time since the 1960s-Jose Mourinho had been hired in 2008 for that specific goal.
The Portuguese manager made several important signings in the summer of 2009 to challenge for the Champions League, including Bayern Munich center-back Lucio, Barcelona attacker Samuel Eto'o (in a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder, but Milito's signing was probably the least exciting from those four and yet one of the most important.
With Eto'o playing more on the wings with Mourinho, the Argentinian was the main center forward that the manager desired and his built, strength and predatory instincts inside the box made him the classic "Mourinho number nine", which proved to be quite important in the coming season.
Milito has gone on record saying that Mourinho gave him a lot of freedom and trust and he certainly rewarded his coach with a lot of great performances, thus allowing both of them to reach football eternity with the treble-winning season.
His contributionsYou only have to look at the 30 goals in 52 matches across all competitions that Milito scored in the 2009/10 season to understand his contributions to Inter's success at the time, but it is even more important to factor in the moments and the timing of some of those goals.
If there was something that Milito had that season was the ability to be in the right place at the right time and there are a lot of examples of that across said season, such as scoring a goal and assisting two more in his first ever Derby della Madonnina against AC Milan in a 4-0 win, the equalizer in a key 2-1 victory against Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League, a goal in the 2-1 win in the first leg against Chelsea in the Champions League, the winner in a major 3-2 victory against Udinese to keep pushing for the Serie A title, scoring one and assisting two more in the 3-1 victory against FC Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals... and the list goes on.
Milito was a very consistent performer across all three competitions for Inter Milan that season and managed to build a very strong connection with his teammates, which resulted in them being able to challenge for every single trophy non-stop.
But of course, every single Inter Milan fan remembers his biggest contributions of the season and they all came in the most crucial at times: he scored the only goal in the Coppa Italia final against AS Roma, the only goal in the 1-0 win over Siena to secure the Serie A title and of course his brace against Bayern Munich in the 2-0 victory during the Champions League final. Thus, the Argentinian became a legend of Inter Milan.
Wherever Milito went, he scored goals. But his time at Inter is always going to have a very special meaning in his career because it was the moment where he competed at the highest level and proved his worth in the most crucial of manners.
You cannot understand Inter Milan's treble-winning season without the contributions and goals Diego "El Principe" Milito.