As one of the top football clubs in all of Europe, there have been plenty of great players to suit up for Inter Milan. Of the hundreds who have done so, who have been the best? Here are our picks for the top five in club history. Before we start the list, some of the more notable players who just missed the cut include Christian Vieri, Ivan Cordoba, Julio Cesar, Samuel Eto’o, and Ronaldo.
While the other Luis Suarez in football may be more well-known these days, the original was a massive star back in his heyday. The Spaniard was born in 1935 and came up through the Fabril youth program following World War II. Suarez then spent the first couple of years of his professional career with Deportivo La Coruna and CD Condal before six years with Barcelona. He then joined Inter Milan in 1961, sticking around for nine years until retiring with Sampdoria.
Suarez appeared in just over 250 league matches for Inter Milan, and during that time scored 42 goals. He helped the club win the Serie A title three times in four years, as well as two Intercontinental Cups and European Cups. In 1960, Suarez earned the Ballon d’Or Trophy while also finishing in the top three on three other occasions.
The first Italian-born player on the list is forward Alessandro Altobelli, who was born in Sonnino in 1955. Altobelli began his professional career with a brief run at Latina prior to joining Brescia in 1974. Three years later, Altobelli became a member of Inter Milan and would remain with the club for over a decade. He wrapped up his career with short stints at Juventus and Brescia in the late 1980s.
With 466 matches, Altobelli is ninth all-time on the Inter Milan list, but he’s second all-time with 209 goals scored. He’s behind only the number-one player on our list in that regard. Thanks to Altobelli’s scoring prowess, Inter Milan was able to win the Coppa Italia twice during his time with the club, as well as the 1979-80 Serie A title.
There’s only one player on the list who spent his entire career with Inter Milan, and that’s Giacinto Facchetti. The Treviglio native came up with the Trevigliese youth program, then joined Inter Milan in 1960, making his professional debut that year. Facchetti then spent all 18 of his pro seasons with the club, so the only other team that he played for was the Italian National Team.
Facchetti is third all-time on the list of matches played for Inter Milan with 634. Fachetti nearly won the Ballon d’Or Trophy in 1965 after leading Inter to a second Serie A title in three years. He then added two more league titles, as well as a Coppa Italia and pair of European Cups. In 2015, Facchetti was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame and four years later was inducted into the Inter Milan Hall of Fame.
The highest-ranked Italian player on the list is Giuseppe Meazza, and he happens to be the namesake for the stadium that’s home to both Inter Milan and AC Milan. Meazza played for both squads throughout his illustrious career, though he’s most known for his long run with Inter. He started with the youth program, then made his debut in 1927. His first Inter run lasted until 1940, and he then returned for a short stint from 1946 to 1947.
Meazza might not be far up the leaderboard in terms of matches played for Inter Milan, but he’s far and away the leading goal scorer. His 287 goals are 78 more than anybody else, with Altobelli being the only other player over 200. Meazza won the Serie A title three times with Inter Milan while also leading the league in scoring in three different seasons. In 2019, he became a member of the Inter Milan Hall of Fame.
The top player on the list is the only one from outside of Europe, as Argentinian Javier Zanetti meant everything to the Inter Milan club for two decades. Zanetti made his professional debut in his home country and played for both Talleres and Banfield before heading to Europe in 1995. He would join Inter Milan that year and spent the final 19 years of his playing career. After retiring in 2014, Zanetti became part of the executive team for Inter Milan.
Zanetti holds the record for most matches played with Inter Milan, and it’s not particularly close as he’s more than 100 ahead of second-place Giuseppe Bergomi. Zanetti helped guide Inter to five straight Serie A titles, and he also won the Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, and UEFA Champions League. In 2018, he was inducted into both the Inter Milan and Italian Football Halls of Fame.