Big day for Milito, Mourinho

Player scores 2

coach gets rare triple, says he's leaving

May 23, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

MADRID — — As far as auditions go, this one was flawless.

Jose Mourinho, Portuguese soccer coach and self-proclaimed "Special One," completed a rare triple Saturday by guiding Internazionale (better known as Inter Milan) to its first European championship in 45 years and then said he was leaving the Italian club.

To go where?

To Real Madrid, on whose Santiago Bernabeu stadium pitch Mourinho danced and cried after two goals by Argentina's Diego Milito had earned Inter a 2-0 win over German champion Bayern Munich in the final of the European Champions League.

"I'm so sad, as almost for sure it's my last game with Inter," a teary Mourinho said. "If you don't coach Real Madrid, then you always have a gap in your career."

Nothing has been signed, but it is believed to be only a matter of time before Mourinho leaves Inter, just as he left Chelsea after leading it to two English Premier League titles.

"It was difficult to leave Chelsea, and it will be sad to leave Inter," Mourinho said. "Inter is my house in the same way Chelsea was my house. But that's life, that's football.

"Now I have two houses, Stamford Bridge and San Siro, and now a third house — probably the Santiago Bernabeu."

Saturday's victory made Mourinho, 47, only the third coach after Germans Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld to win Europe's top club prize with two different teams. Mourinho also led Portugal's FCPorto to the title in 2004.

It also ended a decades-long drought for Inter, which also won the Serie A championship and the Italian Cup this season and thus became the first Italian club — and only the sixth team in history — to complete the treble of domestic league, domestic cup and European titles.

"This is really emotional," said Massimo Moratti, president of Inter, which will play an exhibition match against Manchester City on July 31 at M&T Bank Stadium. "The team played a perfect game. It's unbelievable for me to be able to relive the emotions I experienced so many years ago."

His father, Angelo Moratti, was the club's president when Inter won what was then known as the European Cup in 1964 and 1965, its only two previous triumphs.

Louis van Gaal, Bayern's Dutch coach, could also have completed the rare treble and joined Happel and Hitzfeld had his team won, but Bayern failed to show the form it had demonstrated in winning the German Bundesliga title and German Cup this season.

"We were not good enough to impose our game," Van Gaal said. "The timing of the goals was decisive."

Not to mention the way in which they were scored. Milito, who will be going to the World Cup with Argentina, was in peak form.

The first goal came in the 35th minute when Inter's Brazilian goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, punted the ball a long way down the field. Milito got in front of Bayern defender Martin Demichelis to head it laterally to teammate Wesley Sneidjer.

The Dutch playmaker then laid on a perfect pass for Milito, who rounded Demichelis, hesitated for a fraction of a second and then fired a shot past goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt.

Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o, who won his third Champions League title after earlier triumphs with Barcelona in 2006 and 2009, set up the second goal, in the 71st minute.

His pass to Milito put the Argentine striker one-on-one against the other of Bayern's slow center backs, Daniel van Buyten, and Milito turned him inside out to create the space to shoot the ball unerringly into the far corner of the net.

It was Milito's day. It was Inter's day. It was Mourinho's day.

But it could be Real Madrid's tomorrow.

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