The traitors of the Milan derby – From Meazza to Leonardo

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The most important Derby della Madonnina for many years is almost here with many observers referring to Saturday evening’s clash between Milan and Inter as a potential title decider. Over the past 70 years it is also a fixture that has played host to some of the great players of Italian football that have actually represented both sides of the fashion capital of the world. The Italian word for these players is “traditori” or traitors.
Perhaps the most famous of all to make the controversial switch is arguably Italy’s most celebrated player of all time. In 1940, after 13 years with Inter, or Ambrosiana as General Mussolini renamed them, Giuseppe Meazza did the unthinkable and switched sides joining up with Milan. On February 9 1941, Italy’s golden boy faced his old colleagues wearing the red and black of their most despised opponents and spent the next two seasons plying his trade with i Diavoli before moving on to Juventus, He returned to the Nerazzurri in 1946 for one more season before retiring.
In 1976 Fulvio Collovati joined Milan where he established himself as one of the world’s finest centre-halves. After the Azzurri triumphed at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Collovati signed for Inter where he would spend the next four years of his career. In 1995, the mercurial Roberto Baggio joined Milan from Juventus and spent the next two seasons at Milanello. After a brief sojourn at Bologna, he returned to Milan in 1998 only this time, to wear the Inter jersey where he made 41 appearances over the next two seasons before ending his career at Brescia.
In 1997 the great Brazilian striker Ronaldo joined Inter from Barcelona and spent the next five seasons with the Nerazzurri, where in just 68 appearances he netted 49 times. After a halcyon period at Real Madrid, Ronaldo returned to Milan in 2007 to play for the Rossoneri where a series of debilitating injuries effectively ended his career. The end of the 1990s saw striker Christian Vieri arrive at Inter from Lazio and for the next six years he was simply unstoppable netting 103 times in 143 games. In 2005 he jumped ship to play for Milan but the Rossoneri were made to look a laughing stock as the big striker failed to emulate any of the blistering form he had displayed with their cross city rivals.
Aldo Serena, Hernán Crespo, Maurizio Ganz, Francesco Coco and Cristian Brocchi have also represented both Milanese giants and as we head into Saturday’s heavy weight showdown, there is a healthy crop of current “traditori”. Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and last but not least, Inter Coach Leonardo, who played over 100 games for the Rossoneri before spending last season at the helm of the club he once represented with such distinction. Should the former Brazilian international get one over his former employers on Saturday night, he may well join Meazza as the greatest “traditore” of all time.
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