Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today, we focus on Argentine brothers, Diego and Gabriel Milito.
Families in Football: Diego and Gabriel Milito
A striker that has enjoyed success at home in Argentina and Europe, Diego Milito is the older brother to defender, Gabriel.
Having come through the ranks with Racing Club, Diego made his debut in 1999 and the club won the Primera Divisíon two years later. The following season, the striker netted an impressive 14 goals from 35 appearances before notching eight in 18 the following campaign.
These goalscoring exploits attracted attention from around Europe and in 2004, he joined Genoa in the Italian Serie B. An impressive tally of 33 goals from 59 league games further raised his profile and, following the club’s relegation to Serie C1 as a punishment for an alleged match-fixing case, he left to join Real Zaragoza in Spain.
Diego would spend three seasons in Spain and the goals continued to flow. 53 goals from 108 La Liga appearances and 63 in all competitions, including four in the first semi-final of the 2006 Copa del Rey to beat Real Madrid 6–1.
Despite his success in front of goal, Zaragoza were relegated from La Liga in his final season and he returned to Genoa, who were now in Serie A. Milito netted 26 goals in 32 appearances for the club.
Despite all the goals, he was yet to win anything outside of his country. That quickly changed when he joined Inter Milan the following season. In his first season at the San Siro, Diego won a prestigious treble – Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League. He netted 30 goals in all competitions, including the winning goal on the final matchday of Serie A to claim the Scudetto, the winner against Roma in the Coppa Italia and a brace in the 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
The following season saw Inter claim the Supercoppa Italiana but an injury-hit campaign saw the striker bag just eight goals from 34 appearances.
Normal service was resumed the following season with the Argentine striking his best tally in a top-flight domestic season of 24 Serie A goals. Despite that, Inter struggled on the pitch with a sixth-placed finish. The next two seasons brought just 11 goals with injuries once again playing a part in his career.
With the injuries a concern, Diego returned home and rejoined Racing Club. 17 goals in 43 league appearances over his three seasons at the Estadio Presidente Perón was his achievement, where he helped Racing secure their first league title after 13 years – which he also won in his first spell at the club.
He netted on his international debut against Honduras but struggled to establish himself as a key player, scoring just four goals in 25 appearances. Diego came runner up in the 2007 Copa America with defeat to Brazil.
One year junior to Diego, defender Gabriel Milito actually came through his brothers’ rivals academy, Independiente. He then moved up to the senior side, making his debut in 1997.
Gabriel spent six years at the Libertadores de América Stadium where he racked up 123 appearances before winning the Primera Divisíon in his final season.
His impressive displays earned him a transfer to Europe where he joined Real Zaragoza in La Liga. The centre back spent four seasons at Los Maños and won the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de España before his brother also joined the club.
His performances earned him a move to Barcelona. Towards the end of a comfortable debut season, Gabriel damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, which ruled him out of Barca’s treble-winning season in 2008/09.
After a 602 day absence, the defender returned but injuries continued to hamper his progress. Despite a torrid time at the Nou Camp, Gabriel won two La Liga titles, a further Supercopa de España and a Champions League.
At just 30-years-old, Gabriel returned to Argentina after he was released from Barcelona. Like his brother with Racing Club, the defender returned to Independiente. His return, however, wasn’t quite as romantic as Diego’s, retiring after just one season.
At international level, Gabriel turned out 42 times for Argentina, scoring once, and came as runner up in the 2007 Copa America.
Although his playing career ended early, Gabriel then turned his hand to management. He took charge of Independiente’s reserve team before moving on to Estudiantes. Despite a fairly good record, he returned to Independiente after just one season to take the role as the club’s first team manager. Another short spell occurred before departing for Chilean club, O’Higgins.
Gabriel only managed one year before returning to Estudiantes. He is now in charge of Argentinos Juniors.
Games Played Together and Against
Diego and Gabriel Milito played plenty of games together for both Real Zaragoza and Argentina. In 88 matches played, the brothers won 35 times and lost 25. Diego scored 25 goals in matches that they were on the same side while Gabriel added four.
When Gabriel played for Barcelona, the brothers met three times with the defender winning all three games – twice against Real Zaragoza and once against Inter Milan in the semi-final of the Champions League. They also faced off against each other at the start of their careers in the Avellaneda derby between Racing Club and Independiente.
In 2003, Gabriel Milito flew to Spain to join Real Madrid. However, Los Blancos rejected the defender after medical results showed that he hadn’t fully recovered from a knee injury. Instead, he joined Zaragoza before joining Real’s rivals Barcelona later in his career.
In the 2005/06 season, both brothers netted for Zaragoza in a 2-2 draw against Barcelona.
In 2012, Diego Milito scored twice in a 3-1 victory at Juventus which ended the Old Lady’s 49-match unbeaten home run.