From Javier Zanetti to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, any and all manner of world-class footballers have donned the blue and black of Inter Milan.
Given their huge trophy haul over the years — which includes 18 Serie A titles and three Champions Leagues — that obviously shouldn’t come as a surprise.
However, for every Wesley Snjeider or Lothar Matthaus, there are a host of players you’ve likely forgotten played for the Nerazzurri altogether.
Here are 15 such examples.
1. Andrea Pirlo
Inter appearances: 40
The current manager of Juventus, Champions League winner with AC Milan and 116-time international with Italy, Andrea Pirlo was and still is remembered as one of the greatest to play the game. However, long before any of the aforementioned achievements, Pirlo spent three years trying to break into Inter’s starting XI as an attacking midfielder.
He only managed 40 appearances and was even loaned out to Reggina for the 1999/00 campaign before moving onto city rivals AC Milan, where he began writing his name in folklore.
2. Roberto Carlos
Inter appearances: 34
Roberto Carlos apparently came close to signing for Aston Villa in 1995 but ultimately ended up at Inter and gave Europe an early preview of his capabilities by scoring a 30-yard free-kick on his debut against Vicenza.
Despite scoring seven goals in 34 appearances during 1995/96 season, Carlos never settled at Inter thanks largely to then-manager Roy Hodgson’s insistence on fielding him as a winger. Real Madrid came calling in 1996 and, well, you know the rest of the story.
3. Philippe Coutinho
Inter appearances: 47
13 years later, another Brazilian made Inter his European landing spot when Philippe Coutinho signed from Vasco da Gama for €4m, although he didn’t officially join the club until 2010. However, the young playmaker could never quite impress enough to hold down a regular spot and, indeed, matched his five-goal total for the club in just 16 games while on loan at Espanyol.
It hardly held back his career, though, as he’s gone on to represent Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich since, as well as the Brazilian national team.
4. Dennis Bergkamp
Inter appearances: 74
Dennis Bergkamp treated us to moments of pure wizardry during his 11-year stay with Arsenal between 1995 and 2006, scoring 120 goals and lifting three Premier League titles, while he’s a legend at Ajax having fired them to Eredivisie, Uefa Cup and KNVB Cup crowns.
What is somewhat less obvious is the fact that, sandwiched between those two golden periods, Bergkamp spent two seasons with Inter Milan. His first campaign yielded 18 goals and a Uefa Cup winners’ medal but in his second, he managed just four goals in 26 appearances across all competitions, leading some to label his signing by Arsene Wenger as a gamble.
5. Edgar Davids
Inter appearances: 23
Whether it was playing for Crystal Palace in the Championship or signing as player-manager for Barnet, Edgar Davids did some pretty strange things during his career, especially considering the incredibly high esteem he’s held in. It’s little wonder, then, that between spells at Barcelona and Tottenham — yep, it keeps getting weirder — few remember he turned out 23 times for Inter. Davids initially signed on a three-year deal in 2004 but had his contract terminated after just one season before heading to Spurs.
6. Leonardo Bonucci
Inter appearances: 4
Barring a one-year sojourn with AC Milan, Leonardo Bonucci has been one of the cornerstones of Juventus’ all-dominating side over the last decade, famously making up one part of the ‘BBC’ back-three alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.
But what you may not know is that Bonucci actually kicked off his senior career with Inter Milan, although considering he made just four first-team appearances in four years, you’d be forgiven for forgetting.
7. Diego Forlan
Inter appearances: 20
After a subdued spell with Manchester United, Diego Forlan spent seven years between 2004 and 2011 becoming one of the most feared strikers in Europe, scoring 155 goals during combined spells for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.
His final season at the latter yielded just 10 goals in 42 appearances and it looked like Forlan was ready to step down from the top, but Inter still felt the need to take a gamble on the veteran marksman in 2011. That gamble backfired and Forlan scored just two goals in 20 appearances for the Nerazzurri before going on to see out his career with spells in Brazil, Japan, his native Uruguay and India. Quite the journey!
8. Ricardo Quaresma
Inter appearances: 32
Has there been a more frustrating player than Ricardo Quaresma over the past 20 years? Given the talent at his disposal, the Portuguese winger should have achieved so much more, especially considering he’s turned out for the likes of Porto, Barcelona and Chelsea over the years.
Inter gave him a chance in 2008 as well and although he stuck around at the San Siro until 2010, he could only manage one goal in 32 appearances.
“He is a great talent, but the joy I have at seeing the way Ibrahimovic works for and with the team I do not yet have with Quaresma. He will have to learn, otherwise he won’t play.”
Jose Mourinho on Ricardo Quaresma’s time at Inter Milan.
Quaresma was even given the ‘Bidone d’oro’ award for the worst footballer in the Italian top-flight during the 2008/09 campaign.
9. Robbie Keane
Inter appearances: 14
If you think Shaqiri has had a strange career path, try taking a look at Robbie Keane’s. The Republic of Ireland’s record goalscorer has turned out for all manner of sides over the years, including Coventry City, Leeds United, Tottenham and Liverpool in England, Celtic in Scotland, LA Galaxy in the United States and ATK in India.
Among all that noise, Keane also made 14 appearances for Inter during the first half of the 2000/01 campaign, commanding a £13m transfer fee no less. However, his Italian dream soon turned into a nightmare when Marcelo Lippi was replaced in the dugout by Marco Tardelli, who deemed Keane surplus to requirements. Having netted just three goals for Inter, he was shipped out on loan to Leeds where he took the Premier League by storm, making the move permanent just a few months later.
10. Xherdan Shaqiri
Inter appearances: 20
Another enigmatic winger who has never quite fulfilled his individual potential, Xherdan Shaqiri has still lifted league titles in Switzerland, Germany and England over the years. Sandwiched in-between spells at Bayern Munich and Stoke City — itself an irregular career path — was a one-year stay at Inter for the 2014/15 season, in which he managed just one Serie A goal in 15 appearances as the Nerazzurri slumped to an eight-place finish.
11. Matthias Sammer
Inter appearances: 12
Matthias Sammer was a Bundesliga and Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund and a European Championship winner with the German national team all between 1994 and 1996. He even won the 1996 Ballon d’Or for his defensive efforts for club and country. However, all of that only happened after a 12-game spell at Inter in 1992.
Sammer failed to adapt to the Italian lifestyle during his time in Milan and although the player himself will have been thrilled with the career he went on to have, Inter will likely have been kicking themselves at the quality of player which slipped through the net.
12. Lukas Podolski
Inter appearances: 18
We all remember the terrifying form of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski at international level for Germany, while neither were too shabby at club level, either.
That said, Podolski undoubtedly enjoyed his best form for Koln and when tasked with performing for a bigger club, such as Bayern Munich and Arsenal, he often left fans frustrated.
That was also the case during his 18-game loan spell at Inter from Arsenal in 2015, when Podolski managed just one goal, although it was one hell of a strike in fairness.
13. Clarence Seedorf
Inter appearances: 93
A title winner in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, the owner of the most ripped thighs you’re likely to see in football and the only player to win the Uefa Champions League with three different clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan), Clarence Seedorf is, quite simply put, a legend.
What you’re not likely to remember is the fact he spent two years with Inter between his trophy-laden spells with Los Blancos and the Rossoneri but, rather than it being down to his own individual performance, that’s probably because the club didn’t bring any silverware home during that time.
14. Juan Sebastian Veron
Inter appearances: 74
There’s no doubt Juan Sebastian Veron was an incredibly gifted footballer — you only have to look back over his time with Lazio to see that. However, his spell in England with Manchester United and Chelsea between 2001 and 2004 was incredibly frustrating, with the Argentine playmaker just unable to adjust to life in Britain — or stay consistently fit — and often finding himself forced out of the starting XI by the likes of Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard.
Such was his failure at Chelsea, Veron embarked upon a two-year loan spell at Inter between 2004 and 2006. He somewhat rediscovered himself at the San Siro, winning back-to-back Coppa Italia titles and the 2005/06 Serie A, although that was something of an anti-climax as Inter were only awarded the title due to the ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal.
15. Marco Arnautovic
Inter appearances: 3
After enjoying a breakthrough 2008/09 campaign with FC Twente, scoring 14 goals across all competitions, Marko Arnautovic must have been licking his lips at the chance to prove himself under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan.
Injury unfortunately curtailed that idea but what it also did was give Arnautovic the chance to run up one of the most remarkable trophy-to-games ratios you’re likely to see. Despite playing just three times for the Nerazzurri, the Austria international managed to pick up Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League winners’ medals as Mourinho’s men sealed a historic treble.