Inter Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu got both personal redemption and revenge on AC Milan yesterday in the Champions League.
This is highlighted in today’s print edition of Rome-based newspaper Corriere dello Sport, via FCInterNews, who note the particular significance of the semifinal second leg triumph to the 29-year-old former Rossoneri midfielder.
Every Inter player had reason for joy after the Nerazzurri booked their place in European club football’s biggest match. However, Calhanoglu may have felt the importance of the occasion more than anyone.
The Turkish international has written a new chapter in a story that has been a bitter one at times for him personally.
Hakan Calhanoglu Has His Revenge On AC Milan
Calhanoglu is hardly the first player to have made the move across the derby divide between Milan and Inter.
However, something was different with the former Bayer Leverkusen man. It didn’t take long for the Turk to erase the memories of his time as a Rossoneri player after he joined Inter from Milan in the summer of 2021 on a free transfer.
In his first season at Inter, Calhanoglu immediately won over the Inter fans. And, in the process, the ex-Milan player quickly alienated fans of his old club.
Calhanoglu scored from the penalty spot in his first Milan derby as an Inter player. His celebration spoke volumes.
The Turkish international did help Inter to win the Coppa Italia, eliminating Milan at the semifinal stage in the process.
However, in the race for the even bigger prize that was the Serie A table, the Nerazzurri missed out to their city rivals. On the final day of the season, the Rossoneri pipped Inter to the Scudetto by just two points.
Revenge For Calhanoglu On Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The Milan players didn’t hold back in their celebrations. Some Rossoneri players taunted their old teammate Calhanoglu personally, including striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Calhanoglu hit back at the Swede, but the feeling was that the damage had been done. Losing the Serie A title in that fashion to Milan stung for the former Rossoneri midfielder.
This season, Milan won the first derby of the season.
However, since then, it has been all Inter.
The Nerazzurri first beat the Rossoneri 3-0 in the Supercoppa Italiana. That match will have gone some way towards feeling like vindication for Calhanoglu. Not just the result, but the manner in which it came – as the result of an emphatic, even outright dominant performance.
However, knocking Milan out at this stage of the Champions League means something different altogether for Calhanoglu.
The derby rivals were competing for a potentially once-in-a-generation spot in the biggest match in European football. The fact that it will be in Istanbul means something even more to Turkish international Calhanoglu.
Now, the former Milan man has managed to do something at Inter that really feels like revenge on his old team.
Personal Redemption & Vindication For Calhanoglu
The Corriere also noted the fact that this triumph comes amid a season of growth and redemption for Calhanoglu on a personal level.
The Turk had arrived at Inter as a box-to-box midfielder. He had been transitioned from more of a trequartista or attacking midfielder to a player versatile enough to play in a central role at the Rossoneri.
This season, though, Calhanoglu has been an altogether different beast.
The 29-year-old has emerged as the first-choice regista in Inter’s midfield trio, with Marcelo Brozovic having suffered two lengthy injuries.
Working with Simone Inzaghi has been key to Calhanoglu making this transition. And the Turk is showing the best form in his new role, where he’s thriving.
Calhanoglu will have all the more reason, then, to look at his decision to cross the city divide in the summer of 2021 and feel that he made the right decision.