Jose Mourinho’s charges who had knocked Out Barcelona en route to reaching the final defeated Bayern Munich 0-2 through Diego Milito’s brace in the final played at the Santiago Bernabeau.
Mourinho ended a wait of more than 45 years for the Nerazzurri to regain Europe's top prize, because they had last won it in 1965.
How fitting, then, that this triumph was earned at Real's magnificent Bernabeu stadium - and as Mourinho waved to the Inter fans after watching his side lift the trophy, it looked every inch a wave goodbye and confirmation this will prove the denouement of his career in Italy.
He joined Real Madrid in the summer after helping inter Milan to win a historic treble.
The build-up had been dominated by Van Gaal's and Arjen Robben's description of Mourinho as a defensive tactician - but if their hope was that such taunts would prompt a more ambitious approach from the Italian champions, they were to be disappointed.
The first couple of minutes aside, when Inter hinted at an expansive approach, Mourinho's side's tactics were clearly to stay strong defensively and pounce on the counter attack.
For a long time, though, it played right into Bayern's hands. With Robben giving left-back Christian Chivu a torrid time and Mark van Bommel pulling the strings in midfield, the Germans almost completely dominated.
Playing with an air of expression and invention, Bayern probed the Inter backline time and again. Robben beat Chivu down the right to set up Ivica Olic, the Croatian slamming wide, Hamit Altintop saw a right-foot shot deflected wide and Robben then skewed wide when well placed 18 yards out.
At the other end, Wesley Schneider saw a deflected 40-yard free-kick beaten away by Bayern keeper Hans-Jorg Butt and Esteban Cambiasso had a firm volley blocked.
But Inter's attacking personnel were largely anonymous in the face of the Germans' control.
Then, on 34 minutes, came Inter's ambush, Milito nodding Inter keeper Julio Cesar's long clearance down to Schneider and then dashing on to the Dutchman's smart return to clip home a delightful finish.
It could - and should - however, have been 2-0 moments before the break when, racing into the box, Schneider shot tamely from Milito's lay-off and Butt palmed away his effort from 16 yards out.
Still, having watched Inter repel pass-masters Barcelona with 10 men in the semi-final, Bayern boss Van Gaal will have been all too mindful of the Italians' ability to defend a lead and he sent his team out flying in the second half.
Just moments after the restart, the German champions should have been level, Thomas Mueller failing to connect smartly enough with a sliding finish with just the keeper to beat, allowing Cesar to beat his shot away.
It was a miss he was almost made to rue within minutes as Milito burst down Bayern's left, cut the ball back to Pandev, only for Butt to brilliantly tip the Macedonian's clipped effort past the post.
Predictably, though, the pattern for the second half had been set - Bayern controlling possession and Inter sitting deep and breaking.
Robben remained far and away Bayern's most potent weapon, his pace and skill down the right prompting almost continuous volleys from an increasingly frustrated Mourinho on the sidelines.
A free-kick from the Dutchman almost led to an equaliser when it fell to Mueller, only for the German's snap-shot to be blocked, before a fine curler again brought the best out of Cesar in the Inter goal minutes later.
But, just as in the first half, for all their considered build-up Bayern were always vulnerable on the counter attack, and another moment of Milito magic settled it.
The Argentine - a constant thorn in the Germans' side - had it all to do when he collected a pass from Samuel Eto'o on 70 minutes.
But Milito was not to be denied and turned defender Mark van Buyten brilliantly - though far too easily - before side-footing a sensational 30th goal of his season.
The goal was effectively game, set and match, Bayern's sting very much drawn and Inter allowed to coast to victory thereafter.
The final whistle prompted a warm embrace between Mourinho and Van Gaal, before the Portuguese enjoyed the celebrations with his team. But he then stalked the Inter end a lone figure, waving deadpanned towards the Nerazzurri faithful.