[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s part of Roberto Mancini’s substantial task of reinvigorating a floundering Inter Milan squad, Lukas Podolski was brought to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on loan from Arsenal in January.
The 29-year-old attacker has had a relatively underwhelming start to life with the Serie A sleeping giants, but will be determined to succeed with the Nerazzurri given the stellar cast of his countrymen that have played for the Italian club in the past.
Upon penning the deal to move to Milan, Podolski has become the eighth German international to wear the famous blue and black colours of Inter, with World Cup winners and players to receive the Ballon d’Or preceding him.
The first two German players to represent Inter are distinguished figures of their respective eras but did not showcase their best performances for the Italian club.
Horst Szymaniak, a versatile midfielder who played in two World Cups, was the the German pioneer at the Milan-based club, but only stayed with the Nerazzurri for a solitary season in the 1960’s.
Hansi Müller followed suit two decades later, playing for Inter between 1982 and 1984 after starring for Stuttgart and the West German national side in their 1980 European Championship triumph.
By the time he arrived at the Italian club his best days were behind him, with his final international appearance coming whilst on Inter’s books.
Next came Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the mid-80’s, with the German legend playing for the famous Italian club for three seasons after forging a venerable club career with Bayern Munich over ten years.
The two-times Ballon d’Or winner’s time with Inter was blighted by injury concerns and he failed to replicate his awe-inspiring shows from Bavaria in Italy before leaving for Swiss side Servette in 1987.
However, the link between German players and Inter was highlighted by a period of distinction in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, where three international stars and World Cup winners graced the Nerazzurri.
Inter firstly signed Lothar Matthäus and Andreas Brehme in 1988, with Jürgen Klinsmann following suit a year later.
While on the Giuseppe Meazza club’s books the trio exacted a cruel irony on their country of residence, winning the World Cup for Germany in 1990 on Italian soil; Brehme scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the final.
Matthäus and Brehme played a considerable part in Inter being crowned Italian champions in their debut campaign at the club, while all three players contributed to the side winning the 1990-91 Uefa Cup.
The German triumvirate started both legs of the European competition’s final against fellow Serie A side Roma, which included compatriot Rudi Völler in the ranks of the opposition.
Matthäus netted in the side’s 2-0 home victory, with an eventual 2-1 aggregate win giving Inter their first ever success in the Uefa Cup.
During the trio’s time in Italy their influence over club and international football was sizeable.
Brehme won the Serie A Player of the Year award in his first season with Inter, while Matthäus was crowned Ballon d’Or winner in 1990 and Fifa World Player of the Year in 1991.
Klinsmann excelled for two of his three campaigns in Italy but after a sub-par third all three Germans left Inter in the summer of 1992.
The last German player to play for Inter before Podolski’s arrival this year was another player of legendary status in the game, but one who did not settle in Italy.
Matthias Sammer spent the 1993-94 campaign with the Nerazzurri, following in Müller’s steps by signing from Stuttgart.
A fully-fledged Germany international before moving to Milan, Sammer did not adapt to the Italian lifestyle and left the club after a solitary season to finish his career with Borussia Dortmund.
Despite a hiatus of two decades, Podolski clearly has big shoes to follow in representing Germany in the colours of Inter given the top-notch pedigree that has graced the club before him.
Just whether he will follow the success stories of Brehme and Matthäus or be another Sammer and struggle to thrive at the famous Italian club will be revealed in time.
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