It was the evening on 9th January 2010, Siena were up 3-2 at San Siro and Walter Samuel went up front for the Nerazzurri in the final minutes as a makeshift striker. After Sneijder levelled from a free kick, Samuel received the ball in front of goal, turned and showed a forward’s instinct to fire Inter ahead. He then ran off screaming under the Curva Nord bare-chested, warmed by the celebrating stadium.
The Argentine defender’s goals in this shirt were never dull. In April of the same year, he scored against Lazio in a match that was crucial in deciding who won the Scudetto. In 2012, his header won a derby. But, defending was his real task and it was a job he excelled in so much that he was nicknamed ‘Il Muro’ [the wall], something that had accompanied from his Roma days. A tough old school defender, he didn’t go for the subtle but suffocated his opponents and didn’t let them breath, letting them feel his presence and studs. His duels against the greatest forwards of the league and derby performances (only one defeat in eleven) and displays in key matches live long in the memory.
His phenomenal defensive play goes down in Nerazzurri history. With an unmistakable style, Samuel would launch his entire body at an opponent who was ready to shoot, remaining in position without flinching for the landing. It happened in the 2010 Champions League final in Madrid. With Inter 1-0 up, Olić was ready to shoot to make it 1-1 but he hadn’t taken into account the unbeatable wall that was about to appear in front of him at the last moment. From that block, the counterattack would start that led to Milito doubling the lead. It was one of the moments created together with his teammates that would be the greatest feat of the Argentine’s career. Drogba and Ibrahimovic, Robben and Messi, all of the best forwards bounced off the ‘Muro’ in that Champions League campaign.