Having scored the goals to clinch all three trophies in Inter’s historic treble campaign, Diego Milito finally achieved widespread plaudits that his goal-scoring exploits in prior seasons had deserved. By netting at Siena on the final day of the 2009/10 Serie A season, against Roma in the Coppa Italia final and with his brace in the Champions League final versus Bayern Munich, the Argentine was at the forefront of the treble success. He scored 30 goals in total two seasons ago, affirming his status as a lethal marksman.
Fast forward to December 2011 and things were not so bright. Milito had been ‘awarded’ the Bidone d’Oro – Italian football’s most unwanted accolade. Perhaps the award was harsh; Milito’s 2010/11 was ruined by injury. The current campaign started terribly for the Nerazzurri under Gian Piero Gasperini and going through a bad run at the same time as the team only exacerbated the concerns. Compared to the runner-ups, Amauri and Milos Krasic, Milito’s 2011 form was not so bad. The 32-year-old started with an opening day double at Palermo, but glaring chances spurned against Atalanta and Lille were indicative of a struggling player.
In the late December catch-up fixture versus Lecce the Argentine international ended the year of a high note, showing a glimpse of the Milito of old with his movement, timing and precision in the finish, focal aspects of his style. Nicknamed El Principe after Enzo Francescoli, Milito may not have his elegance and flair with the ball, but like the Uruguayan legend he is dangerous when in possession.
That goal was his first since September and started the current run – five goals in four matches – which questions the decision to award the Golden Bin to the striker in the first place. Against Parma Milito’s penalty area prowess came to the fore. His running into dangerous areas showed an invigorated and confident striker, his first goal from a neat flick in stark contrast to those earlier misses which left fans in bewilderment.
Milito’s Derby della Madonnina winner truly meant The Prince had returned, not so much in the manner of the goal, but the sense of occasion. He made that clear afterwards, noting: “Winning the derby is the best thing possible especially for everyone who supported me when things got difficult.” Milito’s style means he is comfortable leading the forward line with a more nimble player alongside, or Wesley Sneijder just behind, or like in recent weeks he can link up with Pazzini to good effect. The combination worked perfectly to help Inter defeat Lazio on the weekend, as the duo worked a one-two and the ex-Genoa man netted the equaliser.
Currently on eight goals, Milito is Inter’s leading scorer, and has come into form just as the Nerazzurri continue their assault on the Scudetto. They are six points off the lead – something unthinkable in September when the club and player were down on their luck – and have won seven straight league matches. The Champions League resumes next month with Inter facing Marseille. The stage is set on both fronts for Milito to remind the world that he is not ready to be binned just yet.