Both Lazio and Inter have seen some incredible strikers grace their fields during their histories. Ruben Sosa however, has to be one of the most exciting and possibly one of the most under rated for both clubs as the South American plied his trade at a time when Inter underperformed and Serie A was awash with talent.
The Uruguayan first came to the Peninsula in 1988 from Real Zaragoza and played for four years at Lazio where he scored 40 goals in 124 appearances. This was a good return for the predatory front man but as his career was blossoming on the eternal city he caught the eye of the Nerazzurri and was promptly signed in 1992 to spearhead their attack.
Sosa’s time at Inter was explosive as the South American hit-man scored 20 league goals in his first season and another 16 in his second. One has to remember at this time that the Italian League used to be home to some of the most resolute defenders in Europa from Paolo Maldini, Amedeo Carboni, Riccardo Ferri and Alessandro Costacurta to name but a handful. He notched an impressive 44 goals in 76 games in all competitions winning the UEFA Cup on the way. It looked like the beginning of a successful and fruitful partnership and goals and silverware seemed to come hand in hand.
The romance was not set to continue as problems soon emerged in the Inter camp after Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival. Their relationship was not one that seemed to blossom on or off the field and in the end Sosa was surprisingly sold to Dortmund in 1995. Sosa always claimed that he treated Bergkamp as a rival rather than a colleague and that the Dutchman was disliked by his team mates. This sense of competitiveness amongst ones team mates was pushed had internally at San Siro at this time and the lack of freedom to the players also had perhaps stunted what may have been and amazing partnership.
Sosa was an all-round Latin striker in every sense of the word. He had skill, he often performed the spectacular (scissor kicks a speciality), he could score breath taking free kicks, round the goalkeeper and had the most delicate of touches. This was mixed with the dirty side of untidy goals, scrappy headers, tap ins, last ditch lunges and quite often a miss timed challenge. All in all, he was the vision of how what a South American striker to most of us should be, a street footballer, tough and deadly whilst also possessing incredible skill and poise. He was gritty yet sublime, passionate yet composed and had if he had been given more time at the Nerazzurri he could have gone down as one of the greats.
When Calcio Ruled the World, Ruben Sosa was terrifying the best defences in Italy in true South American style.
Words by Richard Hall: @Gentleman_Ultra