How Inter Milan got its name: Story behind Internazionale club nickname, badge, and founding


Internazionale, better known to many as Inter Milan, or simply Inter, are readying to play in the club’s biggest game of the last decade.

Holding three European continental titles in the club’s history, Inter go for their first Champions League crown since 2010 as they take on Manchester City in Istanbul on Saturday.

The club has a rich history as one of the giants in Italian football, but their beginnings are actually far more global than that.

The Sporting News brings you an overview of how Inter got started over 100 years ago, and where their name comes from.

MORE: Inter are the biggest betting underdog in recent recorded Champions League history

What is Inter Milan’s full name?

The full, registered name of the Italian club is Football Club Internazionale Milano.

While many in the English-speaking world refer to the club as “Inter Milan,” largely as a way of differentiating the club from others with “Inter” in their name, that’s not common inside Italy.

Instead, they’re referred to as “Internazionale” or just “Inter” for short. In fact, the club’s website URL is and both their Twitter and Instagram handles are @inter.

How were Inter founded?

The history of the two Milan clubs is forever intertwined, and their start is largely thanks to an English man, Herbert Kilpin. In 1891, Kilpin moved to Turin, Italy to work in the textile industry, for a man who had founded Internazionale Torino, thought to be the first fully professional Italian football club. Kilpin played for the club, becoming the first Englishman to play professionally abroad.

Internazionale Torino would go through a number of iterations before dissolving in 1906, allowing the birth of current Serie A side Torino. In 1898, Kilpin moved to Milan, and together with another English-born player, Samuel Richard Davies, they founded AC Milan, originally known as Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club.

That club would become hugely successful, with Kilpin serving as player-manager. They would win the national title in 1901, in the club’s second season of existence.

Inter was then founded in 1908 when a group of players, including a contingent from Switzerland, were unhappy with the club’s restrictions on foreign players — somewhat ironic given their roots. They split off to form Internazionale, with the name selected to specifically display their acceptance of players from abroad.

The name literally translates to “International Milan” in English.

Who designed the Inter badge?

Inter founding member Giorgio Muggiani, an Italian artist, designed the badge of the club.

Muggiani was serving as a member of the Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club when he was drawn into a disagreement with then-president Giannino Campeiro regarding a ban on signing foreign players in the future.

So Muggiani, alongside a number of other Italian and Swiss players and executives, split off to form Inter. Hernst Marktl, a Swiss player, was the club’s first captain. Giovanni Paramithiotti was the club’s first chairman, and Virgilio Fossati was the team’s first manager, serving for six years. An Englishman, Bob Spottiswood, was the club’s third manager, from 1922-1924.

Muggiani was the one to produce the club’s first badge, crafting the interlocking FCIM that is still used today. In fact, the club has often returned to that very same first badge, which lasted from 1908-28. They went back to the same design from 1963-66, and then again from 2007-2021, with other variations using extremely similar designs.

Indirectly, therefore, Muggiani is also largely responsible for the club’s nickname, the Nerazzurri, which literally translates to “the black and blues” as a reference to the club’s colors. Legend has it that Muggiani chose black and blue to reflect the night sky, having come up with the badge at around 11.30 p.m. on a March evening.

Inter’s crest underwent a temporary change in 1928-29 due to pressure from Italy’s fascist government, who ordered the club to merge with Unione Sportiva Milanese to become Societa Sportiva Ambrosiana. The new crest contained the flag of Milan: a red cross on a white background, which resembles the English flag of Saint George but in fact symbolises the connection between the city and Ambrose of Milan, its patron saint. The badge lasted just one year, and the club reverted to its original name after the Second World War.

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