Sneijder revels in Bernabeu return

Real Madrid outcast wins European Champions League on return to former hunting ground.

    Sneijder, centre, starred in Inter's first European Cup win for 45 years [AFP]

    Revenge was far from Wesley Sneijder's mind when he showed former club Real Madrid what they were missing with an inspirational display in Inter Milan's European Champions League final victory.

    The diminutive Dutch playmaker, 25, returned to the Bernabeu a year after being discarded to help pay for their gigantic spending spree - and ended up lifting the European Cup with the Italians after a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich on Saturday.

    It was the Italian side's first European Cup in 45 years.

    "I didn't come here looking for revenge. That kind of thing can work against you," the World Cup-bound Dutch international said.

    "I admit, I never expected to win three titles (by moving to Inter)."

    Cultivated

    Sneijder is typical of the type of player Jose Mourinho has cultivated in his Inter team, snapping him up for $18.76 million, after Real paid an expensive-looking $67 million for Brazilian playmaker Kaka.

    "Mourinho is the architect. He designed the way we played and we executed the plan. We'll lose the architect of the team"

    Wesley Sneijder, Inter Milan midfielder

    The hard-working midfielder was the creative outlet behind their quick-breaking forwards, and laid on the opening goal for Diego Milito in the first half, exchanging a well-timed one-two with the Argentine who is also heading for South Africa.

    Sneijder took nearly all Inter's free kicks and only ever had one objective - to shoot at goal no matter the distance.

    When Bayern had the ball he tirelessly chased and closed down opponents, the fluorescent orange flashes on his boots a blur.

    "It was a team performance," he said.

    "We knew their backs were slow so we had to get at them. Mourinho told us to press forward.

    "We were better than just effective," he responded when told that Bayern captain Mark van Bommel had said the most effective team won the match.

    The news that Mourinho was set to leave was a blow, he said.

    "He is the architect. He designed the way we played and we executed the plan. We'll lose the architect of the team."

    Back to Real?

    When asked if he would follow Mourinho, perhaps back to Real Madrid, Sneijder quipped: "Inter won't let me!

    "He was the one who came in for me, but it is too soon to go back."

    It was a joyous night for Sneijder, but not so for his Dutch international teammate on the Bayern wing Arjen Robben, another player shown the door by Real last year.

    Robben, who was offloaded for $15 million, was the Munich side's main threat, tirelessly running at defenders all night, and was subjected to some tough tackles.

    A hug from Mourinho on the touchline during the first half showed the respect the Portuguese still had for Robben from their days together at Chelsea but Inter's disciplined defence managed to snuff out most of the danger he created.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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