Although Inter breezed past Derby della Madonnina rivals AC Milan with relative ease in the 2022/23 Champions League semi-final, few will have the Italians as favourites for the trophy with Manchester City awaiting in the final on June 10, 2023, in Istanbul.
However, while the Premier League champions have riches the Nerazzurri can only dream of and the La Liga giants have won the competition a record 14 times, the Serie A club have their own recent domestic success to draw upon – the 2020/21 Serie A title and 2022 Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana – and notable history in Europe to use for inspiration.
Several of the players who will walk out at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in the Turkish capital for coach Simone Inzaghi nearly won the Europa League in 2020 and if successful, it will not be the first time an Inter captain has held the European Cup/Champions League aloft.
When did Inter first win the Champions League?
Despite the European Cup, as the Champions League was originally known, being just six years old, when Inter reached the final for the first time in 1964 there was also an element of an underdog story, as opponents Real Madrid had won the first five editions and been losing finalists two years before.
However, with AC Milan the then-holders of the trophy, there was plenty of incentive for the Nerazzurri to triumph in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna and equal their bitter rivals’ achievement. They overcame Real Madrid 3-1 with a brace from Sandro Mazzola and another from Aurelio Milani.
Unlike the Rossoneri, though, Inter retained their crown a year after their debut success and got to do so at home with the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza hosting the final against Benfica, when a Jair goal secured a narrow 1-0 win and the defensive style of coach Helenio Herrera helped popularise the catenaccio approach.
When did Inter last win the Champions League?
After those early successes in the 1960s, the Nerazzurri had to wait 46 years to lift the trophy once more, after two near misses in 1967 against Celtic and a 2-0 loss to Ajax in 1972. Then came the rebranding of the competition into the Champions League. In that time, Inter fans also had to watch AC Milan triumph five times and become Italy’s most successful European club side.
However, in 2010, with significant investment in the squad and a high-profile coach in Jose Mourinho, winning the competition at the Santiago Bernabeu with a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich, through a Diego Milito brace, not only made it a hat-trick of European Cup/Champions League victories, but a first-ever treble in the club’s history, after already winning the scudetto and Coppa Italia.