Inter Milan face Real Madrid this week as two of Europe’s most glamorous and historic clubs go head-to-head in the Champions League group stages.
The two sides are amongst the biggest clubs in world football and will be hoping to begin the 2021/22 Champions League campaign with a positive result at the San Siro, the reigning Italian champions hosting the record 13-time winners on match-day one.
Some huge names have represented both clubs throughout the years and ahead of the clash, we’ve looked at five of the best players to have played for both Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
When the likes of Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Samuel Eto’o and Iván Zamorano fail to make the cut, you know it’s some list.
Five of the best players to play for Inter Milan and Real Madrid:
Fabio Cannavaro ranks as one of Italian football’s great defenders, the centre-back one of just three defenders in history to have won club football’s greatest individual accolade, the Ballon d’Or.
Cannavaro signed for Inter Milan in 2002 after an impressive spell with Parma’s cult side of the late nineties, winning both the UEFA Cup and Copa Italia with the latter before his switch to the San Siro.
His first season saw Inter reach the Champions League semi-finals and finish as runners-up in Serie A, but an injury-hit second season saw the club’s hierarchy surprisingly allow him to leave for Juventus in a part-exchange deal.
Cannavaro established himself as one of the best defenders in world football during his time in Turin, though departed for Real Madrid in 2006 after Juventus’ relegation as a result of the Calciopoli scandal.
He was named as winner of the Ballon d’Or shortly after his move to the Bernabeu, having captained Italy to success at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The defender spent three seasons with the Spanish giants and won two league titles, before returning to Juventus.
Clarence Seedorf shot to prominence as part of Ajax’s Champions League-winning side in 1995, before departing as part of a mass exodus in Amsterdam and signing for Sampdoria.
His spell with Sampdoria lasted just a single season before Real Madrid came calling, where he starred across three-and-a-half seasons in the Spanish capital.
Seedorf formed part of the side crowned as European champions for the first time in the Champions League era, as Los Blanco defeated Juventus to win the tournament in 1998.
The arrival of Guus Hiddink as manager saw Seedorf’s status as an automatic starter come under threat, with the midfielder sold to Inter Milan.
Seedorf spent three seasons with the Nerazzurri before leaving – like Cannavaro – in an unfavourable part-exchange for Inter, joining rivals AC Milan and cementing his status as an all-time club great on the opposite side of the San Siro divide.
He made 432 appearances and won two league titles and two Champions League trophies with Milan, remaining the only player to have won the tournament with three separate clubs.
The third player on this list that Inter Milan will no doubt have regretted allowing to leave, Roberto Carlos spent just one season with the Italians after his arrival from Palmeiras.
His sole season saw Inter disappoint to finish seventh in Serie A, before a disagreement over his playing position saw Carlos leave and sign for Real Madrid.
The Brazilian became one of the greatest full-backs of all time during a stellar career at the Bernabeu, making 527 appearances across all competitions for Los Blancos and winning a wealth of major honours.
Carlos’ list of accolades includes four league titles, three Champions League trophies, and World Cup success with Brazil, with the left-back the second-most capped player in the national side’s history behind only Cafu.
Carlos’ penchant for the spectacular enhanced his legend further, with the defender scoring an impressive 69 goals in all competitions during his 11-year spell with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo Nazario’s emergence was perhaps the most exciting of any young player in football history, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or and twice breaking the world transfer record.
The second of those record-breaking deals saw Inter Milan sign O Fenômeno from Barcelona, with Ronaldo having scored 47 goals in just 49 appearances to fire the Spanish side to a treble of trophies during his sole season at the Camp Nou.
Ronaldo made an immediate impact to be named as Serie A Footballer of the Year during his debut campaign, scoring 34 goals and dismantling defences in a division that contained the world’s best players at that time, as Inter won the 1998 UEFA Cup
Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 58 league appearances for Inter before the first of a series of knee injuries that would rob both him and the footballing world of his glorious peak, with the Brazilian missing the entire 2000/01 season and much of the campaigns either side with career-threatening issues.
Ronaldo returned for the 2002 World Cup and after finishing as the tournament’s leading scorer to fire Brazil to success, signed for Real Madrid as part of the club’s Galactico regime.
He won a second Ballon d’Or that year and finished as the league’s leading scorer the following season, scoring 104 goals in just 177 appearances for the Spanish side in total.
Whilst injuries had robbed Ronaldo of the explosiveness that had made him a generation-defining footballer, the version at Real Madrid remained a goalscorer of the highest standard.
Wesley Sneijder attracted the attention of Europe’s elite clubs after coming through the famous academy system at Ajax, with Real Madrid winning the race to secure the midfielder’s signature in 2007.
Sneiijder impressed during his debut season in the Spanish capital as Real Madrid won La Liga, scoring nine goals and providing a further six assists in an encouraging first campaign.
However, his performances dipped during a second season of struggle and he was allowed to leave for Inter Milan in 2009, as Real made room for a second wave of the Galactico era under Florentino Perez.
The move to Milan proved the perfect fit as Sneijder evolved into one of the most effective midfielders in European football, his creativity and quality in possession proving the perfect addition to Jose Mourinho’s counter-attacking side.
Sneijder helped Inter to a historic treble during the 2009/10 season, becoming the first Italian side in history to win Serie A, the Coppa Italia and Champions League in the same campaign.
The most-capped player in the history of the Netherlands national side, his peak years at Inter also saw Sneijder help the national side to the 2010 World Cup final, scoring five goals to win the tournament’s Silver Ball.
He made 116 appearances and scored 22 goals across all competitions for the Nerazzurri before signing for Galatasaray in 2013.
See Also – Ronaldo Nazario’s best goals for Inter Milan