Sneijder stands out among cast of heroes

MILAN - Diego Milito's goals, Walter Samuel's solid defence and the safe hands of Julio Cesar all contributed hugely to Inter Milan's fifth straight scudetto but Wesley Sneijder was perhaps the man to make the real difference.

The Dutch playmaker was unceremoniously kicked out of Real Madrid at the start of the season, seen as vastly inferior to the likes of Kaka, and Inter fans were slightly wary about signing what appeared to be a washed-up player.

Instead the 25-year-old settled into Inter's side almost immediately and soon began to link midfield and attack, one of the biggest flaws in Inter's play over previous seasons.

Coach Jose Mourinho had been crying out for a playmaker and will probably now be glad a move for his first choice Deco fell through and Sneijder arrived.

His free kicks, quick thinking and boundless energy set up countless goals and he also weighed in with four important league strikes of his own.

He scored his most crucial goal in the 2-1 home win over Udinese in October when he slotted in from a tight angle deep into injury time to really endear himself to Inter fans.

"My best season ever? Yes. When you play the final of the Champions League you can say that it's your best season ever," Sneijder told reporters, looking ahead to the final against Bayern Munich on May 22.

He has consistently tracked back too and done his defensive duty with the only real negative being the way he sometimes gets stroppy on the field when things go against him.

The balding midfielder also has a remarkable Lazarus-like ability, declaring himself fit for games which just days earlier he had been ruled out of through injury.

A series of knocks have not compromised his effectiveness and he could be one of the shining lights of the World Cup given he is not as well known as the likes of Xavi or Frank Lampard.

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