“When I arrived at Bayern, we won the league during my first year. Now I’m at Inter and the same thing will happen again.” Presenting himself with confidence, Lothar Matthaus, was well aware that he would need to back this claim up with facts. At the start of what was the German’s first season as an interista, the team’s domestic competition was remarkably tough. Rivals included a Dutch-inspired Milan side, who were the reigning champions, Maradona’s Napoli, Baggio’s Fiorentina, Laudrup’s Juventus and also a Sampdoria side led by Vialli and Mancini. However, Inter ultimately triumphed thanks to a perfectly constructed team, which notably had the 27-year-old No.10 at its core.
In Germany, he had been mostly used as a No.6 or No.8, however, these positions were both occupied by Mandorlini and Matteoli. Therefore, in selfless fashion, Lothar switched to No.10. During that first season he made 32 league appearances and scored nine crucial goals.
All of his teammates had similar opinions when describing Lothar Matthaus: “From that moment when he decided to win a match, he would win it.” He was the ultimate game-changer, providing both technical and moral leadership for the squad and providing a sense of positivity for his teammates. Upon his arrival in Italy, he heard that it was good enough for the team to draw on their travels and then win at home. However, prior to a game away in Emilia, he said to his teammates: “Draw? Today we’ll win 4-0.” He would ultimately be mistaken, with the scoreboard at the Dall’Ara showing Bologna 0 Inter 6 at the end of the day.
The San Siro loved him, so much so that they even supported him through the 1990 World Cup, where Germany played five matches at the refurbished Meazza. Often the Curva Nord would be full of interisti, who’d simply be there to support Matthaus and help his Germany side win their third World Cup.
In exchange, Lothar would lift the Ballon d’Or at San Siro that same year. A deserved award for a player who had the rare skill of combining ability with charisma. He was decisive in decisive moments. Examples of this include his fierce free-kick to defeat Maradona’s Napoli in 1989, securing the Scudetto as a result, and also a penalty struck just under the crossbar to gift Inter the 1991 UEFA Cup.
He enjoyed four fantastic years with the Nerazzurri - the most important of his 20-year career. During this he played in five World Cups, which is a record for any player and has yet to be broken. Despite success elsewhere, Inter was a special club for him and always will be; as was he a special player for all interisti. When out in the playground, kids didn’t want to be Platini, Maradona, Van Basten, Baggio or Mancini. They wanted to Lothar Matthaus, the winner.
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