Diego Milito

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Diego Milito
Diego Milito - Inter Mailand (3).jpg
Milito with Internazionale in 2009
Personal information
Full name Diego Alberto Milito
Date of birth (1979-06-12) 12 June 1979 (age 35)
Place of birth Bernal, Argentina
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Racing Club
Number 22
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2003 Racing Club 137 (34)
2003–2005 Genoa 59 (33)
2005–2008 Zaragoza 108 (53)
2008–2009 Genoa 31 (24)
2009–2014 Internazionale 128 (86)
2014– Racing Club 17 (6)
National team
2003–2011 Argentina 25 (4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16 December 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17 July 2011

Diego Alberto Milito (born 12 June 1979) is an Argentine footballer who plays as a striker for Argentine side Racing Club and also formerly played for the Argentine national team.[1] A prolific and consistent centre-forward, Milito has averaged just over a goal every two appearances over the course of his 10-year professional career. He was pivotal in Inter's 2009–10 treble-winning season, contributing two goals in the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final.

He has been nicknamed El Príncipe ("The Prince" in Spanish) because of his physical resemblance with former Uruguayan footballer Enzo Francescoli, who had the same nickname.[2]

Club career[edit]

Racing Club[edit]

1999–2003: Early years in Argentina[edit]

Diego Milito started playing at Argentine first division team Racing Club in 1999, where he won the 2001 Apertura tournament. During this time, his younger brother Gabriel played for Racing's main rival, Independiente, as a defender. The two clubs would contest the Avellaneda derby with the two brothers lining up against each other.[3]

Genoa[edit]

2004–2005 season: First years in European football[edit]

At the beginning of 2004, Milito moved to Italian second division club Genoa. After two very successful seasons, where he scored 33 goals in 59 matches in Italy, Genoa were relegated down to Serie C1 as a punishment for an alleged match-fixing case in the final match of the 2004–05 season. Due to this, Milito was forced to leave Genoa and would ultimately join his brother Gabriel at Real Zaragoza in the Spanish La Liga.[4]

Real Zaragoza[edit]

2005–2008: Making his mark in Spain[edit]

Milito again showed his incredible potential in Spain, scoring four goals in the first semi-final of the 2006 Copa del Rey to beat Real Madrid 6–1.[5][6][7] He finished the season as Zaragoza's top scorer with 16 goals in the first division.

Milito was one of the top scorers in the 2006–07 La Liga season.[8] He scored 23 goals, two less than league top goalscorer Ruud van Nistelrooy and three behind European Golden Boot winner Francesco Totti.

In November 2006, it was reported Zaragoza decided to buy him outright after his two-year loan was set to expire.[9][10]

Milito became the club captain at Zaragoza, taking over this role from brother Gabriel, who departed for FC Barcelona in 2007.[11] His contract was extended in August 2007 with a buy-out clause of €100 million.[12] His goals helped Zaragoza to a sixth place finish in the league. As of January 2008, Milito averaged higher than a goal every two games for Zaragoza, a statistic he also achieved with Genoa.

Second spell at Genoa[edit]

2008–2009 season: A return to Italy[edit]

On 1 September 2008, just a few minutes before the transfer window closure time, Genoa completed the transfer of Milito from Zaragoza after the Spanish team were relegated to the Segunda División.[13][14] His agent, Fernando Hidalgo, confirmed Milito chose explicitly to return to Genoa despite having received more lucrative offers from other major European clubs.[15] He made his debut on 14 September against Milan. Genoa won the game 2–0 with Milito assisting the first goal and scoring the second.[16] On 9 November, Milito scored his first hat-trick for Genoa in the 4–0 victory against Reggina.[17][18] He finished the season with 24 goals in 31 league appearances, placing him second behind Zlatan Ibrahimović in the Capocannonieri scoring title.[19]

Internazionale[edit]

2009–10 season: A treble-winning debut season[edit]

Diego Milito during a pre-season match in 2009

On 20 May 2009, La Gazzetta dello Sport confirmed that Diego Milito was transferred to Internazionale alongside teammate Thiago Motta.[20] The transfer fees were €28 million and €10 million respectively[21] but Genoa also received Robert Acquafresca,[22] Leonardo Bonucci,[23] Riccardo Meggiorini,[23] Francesco Bolzoni[23] Ivan Fatić[24] and cash in exchange.

Diego Milito in 2009

The striker adapted to his new surroundings quickly and had an excellent start to his Inter career, scoring two goals in a 2–0 World Football Challenge win over city rivals Milan.[25] Subsequently, on 29 August, in his first ever Derby della Madonnina against Milan in Serie A, Milito assisted two goals and scored a penalty, his first league goal of the season, as Inter won 4–0.[26] Later, on 13 September, he scored his second league goal in a 2–0 home win against Parma.[27] In the next league match against Cagliari, he scored both goals for Inter in a 2–1 away win.[28] These two goals placed him at the top of the all-time Serie A scoring charts for best strike rate, with 28 goals in 35 games, giving him an average of 0.8 goals per game.[29] Milito continued his fine run of form with another goal in the next league match against Napoli, scoring the second goal after Samuel Eto'o scored in the first minute, a game that they won 3–1.[30]

The consistency which Milito had shown at his previous clubs was sustained throughout his debut season at Inter, and after the first few matches, he had established himself as a key contributor to the squad. On 30 October, in a 5–3 home victory against Palermo, Milito, who had returned from an injury, came off the bench to make the result safe, scoring Inter's fifth goal.[31] In the next game, against Livorno, he scored another goal,[32] taking his strike rate up to seven goals in nine league matches. Three days later, on 4 November, he scored his first goal in the UEFA Champions League in a 2–1 Group Stage win over Dynamo Kyiv; it was the equaliser which led to Wesley Sneijder's game-winner in the 89th minute.[33] On 24 February, in another Champions League match, this time in a 2–1 Round of 16 win against Chelsea, he scored another important goal, his second in the competition.[34] Four days later, Milito netted the matchwinner which gave Internazionale a 3–2 victory at Udinese, in a thrilling win for the Nerazzurri.[35] On 27 March, after missing a 3–0 win over Livorno[36] with a hamstring problem, Milito returned for a crucial battle at title contenders Roma, where he scored one goal in a 2–1 loss.[37][38] On 31 March, in a 1–0 Champions League quarter-finals win against CSKA Moscow, he scored the winning goal which enhanced Inter's chances of reaching the semi-finals.[39] Milito scored a vital goal and assisted twice in a 3–1 home win against FC Barcelona in the team's first leg semi-final win.[40][41][42]

During the very last matches of the 2009–10 season, Milito proved instrumental in Inter's winning of the first treble in the history of Italian football. The Argentine first scored the only goal in Inter's victory over Roma in the final of the Coppa Italia on 5 May 2010, enabling the Nerazzurri to take home their first trophy of the season.[43] Eleven days later, it was also Milito's goal which secured Internazionale's 18th Scudetto when they beat Siena 1–0 on the final matchday of Serie A.[44] With only two points separating the top two teams in Serie A, the goal lifted Inter to the summit of the table after being in a position to lose the league title to Roma at the half-time break as Roma, playing simultaneously, were winning their own match against Chievo at that point. Milito himself declared this goal to be the "best of his career,"[45] having been decisive in delivering a league title to his team. There was more to come from the forward, however, and on 22 May 2010, Milito yet again proved vital as he scored twice to seal a victory in the Champions League Final over Bayern Munich. As a result, Inter became European club champions for the first time in 45 years with a 2–0 victory and completed their historic treble championship season.[46]

After the treble success, many pundits took note of the fact that Milito had always been an effective and efficient striker, yet remained one of the most underrated players in world football because of his low-key manner and the fact that he had plied his trade for smaller, less competitive teams prior to joining Inter.[3] Scoring goals on the biggest stages for a marquee team finally earned the striker the recognition merited by his skill and goalscoring record. Of the player and his two Champions League winning goals, The Guardian wrote:

Diego Milito during training in 2009

On 9 August 2010, Milito signed a new four-year contract with the Nerazzurri.[48] On 26 August, Milito was named 2010 UEFA Forward and Player of the Year.[49]

2010–11 season[edit]

On August 26, at the ceremony called for the delivery of the UEFA Club Football Awards, he was voted the best striker in the previous season's European club by winning the prestigious UEFA Club Footballer of the Year. Inter followed the previous season's success with a victory in the Italian Super Cup against Roma. He failed to convert a penalty in the 90th minute, however, in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup match against UEFA Europa League champions Atlético Madrid; the game finished 2–0 for the Spaniards. He played his first match of the league on 30 August 2010 in week one against Bologna, where Inter started the season with a goalless draw.[50] On 14 September, Milito scored an accidental own-goal in first match of group stage in Champions League against Twente.[51] Eight days later, on 22 September, Milito scored his first goals of the season by sigled a brace in a 4–0 win against nearly prometed club Bari at San Siro, helping the team to reach in top of the league.[52] After that, he went to wait until 10 November to score his next goal, where he score against Lecce to put his team ahead in 76th minute, but, however, Lecce would equalizing three minutes later with Uruguay international Rubén Olivera.[53] He dedicated the goal to his team mate Walter Samuel, who three days ago ended his season after suffered a severe knee injury.[54][55]

In December, Milito scored a goal against Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in the semi-finals of the 2010 FIFA Club World Cup; Inter went on to win the tournament. On 24 January 2011, Milito received an Oscar del Calcio award for "Best Football Foreign Player" and the "Best Footballer of the Year" for the 2009–10 season. Milito registered just eight goals in 34 appearances in an injury-plagued season as Inter finished the league in second place.

2011–12 season[edit]

Milito (with number 22) and his team-mates before a Champions League match against PFC CSKA Moscow on 27 September 2011

In the first Serie A match of the 2011–12 season, Milito scored two goals in a 4–3 defeat against Palermo. After a seesaw performance, Milito crept back on the scoresheet with a goal on 24 September against Bologna and on 2 November, he registered his 200th goal with the club in a Champions League match won 2–1 against Lille OSC.

On 27 November, Milito earned his 400th career appearance in the league match at Siena, which ended with a 1–0 away win for Nerazzurri,[56] while on 18 December, in a 1–0 win over Cesena, he played his 100th game in Serie A.[57] On 21 December, marks in a 4–1 win against Lecce in Inter's last match for 2011.[58] On 7 January 2012, he scored twice and assisted goal of Giampaolo Pazzini in a 5–0 win against Parma at San Siro.[59] On 15 January 2013, Inter won the Derby della Madonnina against Milan with the result 1–0, with Milito who scored the only goal in 54th minute after an assist from Javier Zanetti,[60] his 200th for an Italian club across all competitive competitions.[61] With his goal at Milan, he has scored seven goals in just nine derby matches played in Italy — four goals in four games in the Derby della Lanterna for Genoa against Sampdoria and three in five in the Derby della Madonnina.

On 1 February, Milito scored all four Inter goals in a 4–4 draw at the San Siro against Palermo,[62][63] the first four-goal game in the Serie A since Christian Vieri accomplished the feat for Inter against Brescia (4–0) on 1 December 2002. It was also his second four-goal game, the first accomplished with Real Zaragoza in a Copa del Rey match against Real Madrid on 8 February 2006.[5][6][7] Milito scored a hat-trick on 1 April in a 5–4 win against his old club Genoa and added another hat-trick on 6 May in the Derby della Madonnina against Milan, where Inter won 4–2. With this feat, Milito overpassed Ronaldo's 49 goals in the all-time list of goals scored in an Inter shirt, with 50. It was also the fourth hat-trick scored in a Milan derby, after Altafini on 27 March 1960; Amadei on 6 November 1949; and Nyers on 1 November 1953. On 13 May, after the club's 3–1 loss against Lazio,[64] Milito finished the season with 24 goals, four behind leader Zlatan Ibrahimović.[65]

2012–13 season[edit]

Milito started the 2012–13 season scoring the second goal of a 0–3 final victory over Serie A newcomers Pescara in the first game of the season.[66] On 28 October, he celebrated his 100th Serie A match in an Inter shirt, scoring his fourth goal of the season away against Bologna.[67] Three days later, on 31 October, he scored his fifth goal against Sampdoria in a game that ended 3–2 for Inter; it was also his 200th career goal across all competitions.[68] On 4 November, he scored a double in the match against Juventus in Turin, a 1–3 Inter win, endet Juventus 49 matches unbeaten run at Juventus Stadium.[69]

After Inter's 2–1 victory over Napoli on 9 December, where Milito registered a goal, Milito celebrated his 100th Serie win out of 197 games played between both Genoa and the Nerazzurri.[70] With 28 goals scored, Milito also became the player with the most goals scored in the Serie A during the 2012 calendar year, ahead of Napoli's Edinson Cavani (27) and Udinese's Antonio Di Natale (23).

Returning from an injury suffered in January on 10 February 2013, Milito marked his return in the home win against Chievo by scoring a goal and providing an assist on Esteban Cambiasso's strike.[71] Milito's season injuries woes continued, however, as on 14 February, in a UEFA Europa League match against CFR Cluj, he was injured in the seventh minute with a collateral ligament injury, anterior cruciate ligament, and capsule in his left knee.[72] Two days later, Milito announced that the surgery to repair the injury was a success, but the player will not return to the pitch for at least six months, ruling him out of contention for the remainder of the season.

2013–14 season[edit]

Milito returned to action for Inter, against Sassuolo on 22 September 2013, having been on the bench in the previous match against Juventus. He scored a brace in a 7–0 away win over the Serie A newcomers.[73] However, he was beset by injury yet again, putting him out for a further ten matches.[74] He returned to the team on 6 January 2014 in a 1–0 away loss to Lazio, coming on as a late substitute.[75]

Return to Racing[edit]

In 2014, it was confirmed he would come back to his first club, Racing Club, where he started his professional career.[76] Milito scored on his Racing return to help the team to a 3–1 win over Defensa y Justicia on the opening weekend of the Argentine championship.[77] On 26 August 2014, he scored a crucial goal with a penalty in the 1–0 victory against Arsenal de Sarandí in week four of Argentine Primera División.[78] On 31 August 2014, Milito scored his third goal for Racing in a 2–1 loss against Independiente; he scored the goal in the 14th minute after an assist by Adrián Centurión. He provided an assist for Gustavo Bou, who scored the second goal in a 2–1 win over Boca Juniors.[79] He scored his fourth goal of the season in a 4–0 win over Estudiantes on 11 October.[80]

Milito continued his fine form, supplying his third assist of the season in a 1–1 draw against Club Olimpo.[81] He assisted Gabriel Hauche in the 41st minute of the match.[82] Milito scored the fifth and sixth of the season on 30 November in a match against Rosario Central, who ended with a 3–0 win away.[83] With this win, Racing where crowned as 2014 Transición champion, mean that the team qualified in 2015 Copa Libertadores second stage.[84] That was Racing's first title after 13 years.[85] Milito said that winning the league with Racing is a dream come true.[86]

International career[edit]

Milito made his Argentina debut on 31 January 2003 against Honduras, where he also scored his first goal. He scored his second and third goals on 16 July 2003 against Uruguay, but appeared only intermittently during the following years[87] and was omitted from the 2006 World Cup squad.[88] He played for Argentina in the 2007 Copa América tournament, gaining playing time after Hernán Crespo's injury in a Group Stage match against Colombia, where he scored a goal.[89]

Milito's impressive performances during his time at Genoa led him to be called more often, especially under the reign of manager Diego Maradona, where Milito would oftentimes be deployed as a substitute. After his first season with Inter, Maradona included Milito in the Argentina squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa,[90] where he would feature in two games as Argentina were eliminated 4–0 in the quarter-finals by Germany.[91] On 1 June 2011, Milito was included in new Albiceleste manager Sergio Batista's 23-man squad ahead of the 2011 Copa América,[92] along with his brother Gabriel and Inter teammates Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso. He did not feature in any matches during the competition with Argentina, who was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Uruguay after penalties.[93][94]

Style of play[edit]

About his playing style, Goal.com said: "His profession is football and his speciality is goals. He is one of the most impressive strikers in world of football today. He doesn't possess the same physical attributes as some of his fellow strikers, but he doesn't need them - he scores goals with ease and has always featured in top teams. Milito is a pure Number 9 and lethal in the penalty area."[95] Milito is a very calm player who plays only with the ball and likes to play long balls.

Personal life[edit]

Diego is married to Sofía and they have two children.[96] He also holds an Italian passport, due to his Italian ancestry from Terranova da Sibari (CS), in Calabria, where his grandparents Salvatore Milito and Caterina Borrelli emigrated from.[97][98] He is the older brother of former football player Gabriel, who last played football for Independiente before retiring.[99]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 30 November 2014 [100][101][102][103]
Club Season League Cup Continental Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Racing 1999–2000 11 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 1 0
2000–01 35 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 35 2 0
2001–02 38 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 38 9 0
2002–03 35 14 0 0 0 0 11 3 0 46 17 0
2003–04 18 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18 8 0
2014 17 6 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 18 6 3
Total 154 40 3 1 0 0 11 3 0 166 43 3
Genoa 2003–04 20 12 0 0 0 0 20 12 0
2004–05 39 21 0 3 1 0 42 22 0
Total 59 33 0 3 1 0 62 34 0
Zaragoza 2005–06 36 15 0 8 6 0 44 21 0
2006–07 37 23 2 3 0 0 40 23 2
2007–08 35 15 7 4 2 0 2 0 0 41 17 7
Total 108 53 9 15 8 0 2 0 0 125 61 9
Genoa 2008–09 31 24 7 1 2 0 32 26 7
Total 31 24 7 1 2 0 32 26 7
Internazionale 2009–10 35 22 4 6 2 0 11 6 2 52 30 6
2010–11 23 5 6 4 1 0 7 2 0 34 8 6
2011–12 33 24 3 1 0 0 7 2 1 41 26 4
2012–13 20 9 5 0 0 0 6 0 3 26 9 8
2013–14 17 2 2 1 0 0 18 2 2
Total 128 62 20 12 3 0 31 10 6 171 75 27
Career total 480 212 38 32 14 0 44 13 6 556 239 46

National team[edit]

[104]

Argentina national team
Year Apps Goals
2003 5 3
2004 2 0
2005 0 0
2006 0 0
2007 6 1
2008 2 0
2009 5 0
2010 4 0
2011 1 0
Total 25 4

International goals[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 31 January 2003 Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula, Honduras  Honduras 1 – 0 3–1 Friendly
2. 16 July 2003 Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina  Uruguay 1 – 0 2–2 Friendly
3. 16 July 2003 Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina  Uruguay 2 – 0 2–2 Friendly
4. 2 July 2007 Estadio José Pachencho Romero, Maracaibo, Venezuela  Colombia 4 – 2 4–2 2007 Copa América

Statistics correct as of matches played 22 May 2010[105][106]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Racing Club
Internazionale

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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