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Inzaghi writes himself Inter Milan history

Manager takes his place among Europe's elite with first Scudetto win

Updated: 2024-04-24 09:49
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Inter Milan's Marcus Thuram celebrates winning the Serie A title with Lautaro Martinez after beating crosstown rival AC Milan 2-1 at the San Siro on Monday. REUTERS

Simone Inzaghi claimed his place at soccer management's top table after claiming a first Serie A title of his coaching career in spectacular fashion in the Milan derby on Monday.

Inter Milan's Scudetto is easily Inzaghi's biggest honor since winning it as a player with Lazio 24 years ago, and comes after three years of off-field turbulence and serious financial problems at the club, all of which he has navigated with aplomb.

Inzaghi, 48, had a lower-key playing career than his elder sibling Filippo, who was a prolific goalscorer for AC Milan and Juventus, a two-time European champion and a World Cup winner.

The younger Inzaghi, also a striker, played most of his career for Lazio, where he is loved by fans despite a modest goal record and only a single league title.

However, in the managerial game, it is Simone who is leading the way at the helm of one of Europe's traditional powerhouses.

He has already attracted plaudits, not least from Pep Guardiola, for taking his team to last season's Champions League final, where it was narrowly beaten by mega-rich Manchester City.

Inzaghi had been largely seen as a cup specialist before this season as he had won three Italian Cups and five Italian Super Cups since beginning his senior managerial career at Lazio in 2016.

But, he once again made light work of off-season strife to push Inter to its 20th league crown, beating local rival AC Milan to a second star on the team's jersey.

"Three years with six trophies and a Champions League final is difficult to imagine," Inzaghi told reporters on Monday night.

"You need to look at the whole three years. We have had a good run this year, but it's a victory that has been a long time in the making."

Inzaghi is also one of just five managers — two-time European Cup winner Helenio Herrera, Roberto Mancini, Giovanni Trapattoni and Arpad Weisz — to collect 100 wins or more in the Inter dugout.

Humble beginnings

Inzaghi took over at Lazio eight years ago after working his way up through the youth ranks and immediately made an impact, taking the Roman club back into Europe and reaching the Italian Cup final, only to lose out to the all-conquering Juventus.

Lazio is frequently overshadowed by crosstown rival Roma, and is hampered by a budget that is dwarfed by Italy's big three of Juve, Inter and Milan, which are all relative paupers on the continent.

The 2019 Italian Cup, two Super Cups — both won against Juve — and Champions League qualification in 2020 might not sound like much, but it was enough to attract cash-strapped Inter following the departure of Serie A title winner Antonio Conte.

Inzaghi arrived at Inter three years ago, with the club about to go into full-blown crisis mode following Conte's exit and the sales of Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, the two stars of that Scudetto-winning campaign — the departures of whom caused fan protests outside the club's headquarters.

However, used to doing more with less at Lazio, and in stark contrast to Conte, he folded in cheap replacements for the departing stars rather than complaining about having them sold out from him.

It is something Inzaghi has made a habit of, as Inter's remarkable domestic campaign came after yet another pre-season in which big players left and serious financial problems hampered his summer transfer activity.


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