Alessandro Birindelli (born 12 November 1974) is an Italian retired footballer. Equally at ease as right or left defender, he is best known for his 11-year spell with Juventus, winning several accolades and appearing in nearly 300 official games. Birindelli was a reliable defender who also displayed good skill with set pieces.
Born to Paolo and Erminia Birindelli in Pisa, the second of two children (sister Tiziana), Birindelli started playing football at the age of eight for the local team of San Frediano (an area of Pisa not far from his boyhood home and the church of the same name).
A longtime Juventus FC fan, being an admirer of Michel Platini, he was also influenced by Paolo Maldini's professionalism and sportsmanship, and entered into Empoli FC's youth academy, beginning his career as a right winger before moving into defense. In 1996 he won the Coppa Italia Serie C, as the team finished second in its group in Serie C1, thus earning Serie B promotion; Empoli followed this with another climb, to Serie A, after collecting 64 points which trailed only Brescia Calcio's 66.
After nearly 150 official matches, Birindelli ended his career with Empoli and moved to beloved Juventus in 1997, managed at the time by Marcello Lippi, joining an already strong squad – which featured young prodigies Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane – and arriving alongside Filippo Inzaghi and Edgar Davids.
He made his league debut in a 2–0 victory over U.S. Lecce on 31 August 1997. His official debut, however, was in the Italian Super Cup victory over Vicenza Calcio. In his first season with Juve he won the Scudetto over F.C. Internazionale Milano, by five points. The season ended on a negative note, though, with the second consecutive loss in the UEFA Champions League, now to Real Madrid.
Birindelli won two more leagues with Juventus, in 2001–02 and 2002–03, adding two Supercups. Again, he was a part of the Juventus side which lost in a Champions League final, this time in the 2002–03 edition against A.C. Milan, which was the first all-Italian final in the history of the competition. He was, however, one of Juventus' few successful players in the penalty shootout, the other being Del Piero. In the summer of 2005, while playing a friendly against S.L. Benfica, he injured his ankle and missed the entire 2005–06.
Juve finished the season with 91 points and another league, but the club's involvement in the 2006 Italian football scandal led to them being stripped of their title and relegated to the second division.
Birindelli and Juventus initially started the 2006–07 season with a 30-point deduction as a further punishment for their role in the match-fixing scandal, but it was ultimately reduced to nine, which allowed Birindelli to win the Cadetti and another promotion. The player contributed with 37 league appearances, while also becoming vice-captain.
Claudio Ranieri took over Juventus for the 2007–08 season, and Birindelli only played seven times in the league. On 17 May 2008, he said farewell to Juventus, after 11 years in the black and white, claiming that he wished to continue playing for another season or two.
On 22 July 2008, Birindelli was announced as Pisa Calcio's new signing, thus finally giving him the opportunity to play for his hometown club, in the upcoming 2008–09. However, Pisa were relegated from division two at the end of the season, and then excluded from Italian football due to financial issues, leaving Birindelli without a team.
In August 2009, he signed a two-year contract with lowly A.S. Pescina Valle del Giovenco. He found himself without a club again on June 2010 after the club was excluded from the football panorama due to heavy debts.
Birindelli represented Italy's U-17 squad at the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship, but did not start in any of Italy's three games. His first start in a national jersey was as part of the Marco Tardelli-led under-23 squad that competed in the 1997 Mediterranean Games, held in Bari. Italy went on to win the gold medal, with the player featuring in three of the four games including the final against Turkey.
Birindelli's full debut came with Giovanni Trapattoni, on 20 November 2002, a 1–1 friendly draw with Turkey. In total, he featured in six internationals, the last being the 2–0 loss against Iceland on 18 August 2004, and was not summoned for UEFA Euro 2004.
In July 2010 Birindelli retired from active football, immediately being named assistant coach in the Zambian national team, led by countryman Dario Bonetti. He resigned from his position in February 2011, due to misunderstandings.
- Mediterranean Games: 1997
Birindelli married childhood sweetheart Silvia, with whom he had two children, Samuele and Matteo.
- "Juventus player biography" (in Italian). Juventus' website.
- "Birindelli al passo d'addio:"Grazie Juve" (Birindelli on brink of goodbye:"Grazie Juve")" (in Italian). Juventus' website. 9 May 2008.
- "Birindelli, Masiero, Pit e Greco: Un poker d'assi per il Pisa di Mister Ventura (Birindelli, Masiero, Pit and Greco: Poker of aces for coach Ventura's Pisa)" (in Italian). Pisa Calcio. 21 July 2008.
- "Ecco le prime parole di Birindelli in biancoverde (First words of Birindelli in Biancoverde)" (in Italian). Valle del Giovenco. 19 August 2009.
- "Zambia: Bonetti’s right hand man quits". Lusaka Times. 3 February 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2011.