Gianluca Zambrotta in July 2006
|Full name||Gianluca Zambrotta|
|Date of birth||19 February 1977|
|Place of birth||Como, Italy|
|Height||1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position||Full back|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 May 2012.
† Appearances (Goals).
Gianluca Zambrotta (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanˈluka ddzambˈrɔtta], Ufficiale OMRI; born 19 February 1977 ) is a World Cup winning Italian professional footballer full back who is currently a free agent.
Club career 
Zambrotta began his professional career with his hometown club, Como Calcio at the age of 17 in 1994. In his first season in Serie B, he played only one match. In 1995, however, Como were demoted to Serie C1 and Zambrotta started to play more regularly for the first team. In the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons, he made 47 appearances and scored 6 goals.
In 1997, Zambrotta's Serie A career began when his great potential was spotted by Bari boss, Eugenio Fascetti. Zambrotta was snapped up by Fascetti after Bari had won promotion to Serie A. In his first year in the top flight, Zambrotta played on the left wing and scored two goals in 27 appearances. In the 1998–99 season, following the departure of Nicola Ventola, Zambrotta exploded on to the scene. In week 1, he scored the only goal of the game against Venezia after just 9 minutes into the first half. Zambrotta continued to shine and was the key figure for Bari's surprise start to the campaign. In week 7, he scored the opening goal at San Siro and helped Bari to win the game 3–2 against Internazionale. In February 1999, the Italian Under-21 International was rewarded by the coach of Italy, Dino Zoff, for his displays. He earned his first cap in a friendly against Norway. He became the first player of Bari to play for the national side in 50 years. Throughout the 1998–99 season, he made 32 appearances and scored four goals. Halfway through this season, he was brought to the most successful club in Italy, Juventus, by Carlo Ancelotti for reported 30 billion Italian lire (€15,493,707, but 3 billion lire paid via Simone Perrotta's 50% rights) and would play in the black-and-white jersey starting the season after.
After the transfer to Juventus on 1 July 1999, Zambrotta continued his upward momentum. He made 32 league appearances with one goal in the first season he played for Juventus. On 14 May 2000, the last match day of the season, Juventus missed out on the Scudetto as they were defeated 1–0 away at Perugia in the heavy rain while Lazio got the three points at home by beating Reggina 3–0 and overcame Juventus with one point. Zambrotta was brought on in the second half in that game and was later given a red card by the referee, Pierluigi Collina. In his second season for Juventus, 2000–01, Zambrotta made 29 league appearances and scored three goals. But Juventus finished once again in second place. Zambrotta won his first Scudetto in the season 2001–02, while he made 32 league appearances and scored one goal during the season. After Zambrotta suffered an injury in the game against South Korea during the 2002 World Cup, he missed the beginning of the 2002–03 Serie A camaign. During his absence, the new signing of Juventus Mauro Camoranesi took his place on the right wing and was in superb form. This prompted then coach, Marcello Lippi, to switch Zambrotta to the left-back when he returned to action. Zambrotta adapted to his new position very quickly and performed particularly well. He remained a regular first team player as Juventus won the second consecutive scudetto and reached the Champions League final, in which they were defeated by Milan in the penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw. Zambrotta won four Scudetti with Juventus, making a total of 217 league appearances and scoring seven goals in six seasons. In 2005–06, following the injury of Jonathan Zebina, as well as the arrival of Giorgio Chiellini and his successful switch with the national team, Zambrotta was again switched to the right-back. Since then, Zambrotta switched between right and left-back frequently throughout the season. In 2005, Zambrotta extended his contract to 2010 but, following Juventus' relegation to Serie B due to Calciopoli, he decided to leave the club in summer 2006 with Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona widely tipped to sign him. He was eventually transferred to Barcelona for €14 million. He signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, where he joined fellow Juventus defender Lilian Thuram, who also left the club. During his 7-year tenure with Juve, Zambrotta formed one of the best teams in the world at the time, as well as one of the world's most feared defenses. He formed defensive partnerships with the likes of Mark Iuliano, Paolo Montero, Ciro Ferrara, Lilian Thuram, Jonathan Zebina, Nicola Legrottaglie, Alessandro Birindelli, Fabio Cannavaro, and Giorgio Chiellini.
On 4 August 2006, after his holiday following the World Cup, Zambrotta reported to his new club for the first time in Los Angeles, United States where FC Barcelona stayed for their pre-season tour in U.S. He trained with his new teammates and made his debut in the final match of the tour, on 12 August against the New York Red Bulls. Zambrotta's official debut in Barça shirt was on 17 August against local rivals Espanyol in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. On 17 March 2007, he scored his first goal in the league game against Recreativo. He also netted goals in matches against Atlético Madrid at Vicente Calderón Stadium (Atlético record home loss – 0–6) and Tarragona. By his own admission, his performance at Barcelona had been below-par. He is well remembered by his performance against Manchester United in the semifinal return clash: he marked perfectly the future Ballon D'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo all along the game, but made a poor clearance in midfield that ultimately led to Paul Scholes long range effort which decided the match and the clash itself. In two seasons with the club, Zambrotta made 58 league appearances, scoring three goals, before his return to Italy. He was heavily tipped to join Milan, or return to former club Juventus.
On 31 May 2008, Zambrotta signed a 3-year contract with Milan. The club paid €9 million to FC Barcelona, with a potential €2million added on depending on Milan's performance in the Champions League, for his services. Zambrotta would reportedly be earning €4 million per year. His move forced Milan right back Massimo Oddo to be loaned out to Bayern Munich for more chance to play regularly.
On 21 September 2008 he scored his first goal for Milan, from 31 metres in the league game against Lazio. In the 2008 and 2009 season Zambrotta played more games than any other Milan player. In the 2009–10 season, Zambrotta mainly played at left back, competing with Luca Antonini for a starting spot, while the emerged star Ignazio Abate consolidated the right back position as his own.
For the 2010–11 season, Zambrotta was more versatile than before and often used as a utility. New coach Massimiliano Allegri also preferred Abate for the right back position while Zambrotta alternated between starting at left back and covering for Abate at right back. Nevertheless, he made 20 appearances in all competitions playing an important role in Milan's 18th Scudetto win. Later that year he won the Serie A title with Milan, and the Super Cup.
He renewed his expiring contract for another year, keeping him a Milan player until at least the summer of 2012.
Milan decided not to renew the contracts of several of their veteran players and Zambrotta was one of those along with Filippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso. He played his final game for Milan against Novara on 13 May 2012.
In November 2012, in an interview with Rai Radio 1, Zambrotta revealed that, in the summer, he purchased a family holiday home near Dublin, Republic of Ireland and stated that he would be "open to the idea" of playing in Ireland's Airtricity League.
Italy national team 
Soon after Zambrotta was brought to Serie A, he got the attention of the national side. He was selected to play for the Italy Under-21 national team for the first time on 25 March 1998 against Malta. In his second game for the U21 against Wales on 22 April 1998, he scored the 2nd goal of Italy on the 43rd minute and helped Italy to win the game 2–1. In 1998, he played in all six games of the Italy U21 while they won 5 of them and drew the last one against Spain.
It was on tour with the under 21's that Luca earned the nickname 'the Mermaid' for his allegedly spending one hour every night in front of the mirror grooming at his now trademark goatee. After some impressive displays for the U21 and the amazing start of the season 1998–99, Zambrotta earned his first cap on 10 February 1999, 9 days before his 22nd birthday, in an 0–0 friendly draw with Norway.
2000 Summer Olympics 
After the disappointing Euro 2000, Zambrotta was back with the U21 side for the Olympic Games in September. He started in games against Australia and Honduras that Italy won 1–0 and 3–1 respectively. Since Italy had already qualified for the quarter finals, the coach put Zambrotta on the bench for the last game against Nigeria and substituted him on at the 80th minute. This would be the last time he played for the U21 national team, with a total of 13 U21-caps. Italy was defeated by Spain, who would go on to win the silver medal, by one goal in the quarter final in a game Zambrotta sat out.
Euro 2004 
In 2003, after the retirement of Paolo Maldini from the national team and a successful switch to left-back with Juventus, Zambrotta became the first choice for this position in the national team. On 30 May 2004, Zambrotta scored his first ever international goal in the game against Tunisia. A Bernardo Corradi header was flapped out for Zambrotta's fierce volley into the roof of the net in the 89th minute while Italy won the game by 4–0. In Euro 2004, although the performance of Italy was largely disappointing and the team was eliminated at the group stage, Zambrotta was one of the few Italian players to be praised for his performances.
2006 World Cup 
After two consecutive disappointing major tournaments, Trapattoni resigned as the coach of the Azzurri. The new coach for Italy was Marcello Lippi, who had just resigned as the Juventus coach to take over the Azzurri. At the end of 2005, as Lippi brought on many new faces for the squad, he once again switched Zambrotta's position – to the right-back this time.
In the Lippi era, Zambrotta remains one of the core players in the team. He featured in eight of the ten FIFA World Cup European qualification matches to help Italy qualify as the group winner. On 15 May 2006, Zambrotta was chosen as one of the 23 players to participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and he played well.
During the Azzurri's final preparations for the World Cup, Zambrotta injured his left thigh during a training match at the national team's training base at Coverciano on 28 May 2006. He picked up the injury in a training match against an amateur team San Giminiano. This brought certain fears for the Italian squad and Lippi decided to keep Daniele Bonera on stand-by in case Zambrotta could not recover in time.
Group stage 
Italy began its World Cup journey against Ghana on 12 June 2006. With the absence of Zambrotta, Italy won their opening game by 2–0. Zambrotta made his comeback in the second group match against USA on 17 June 2006 playing at the left-back position. This was his fifth appearance in the FIFA World Cup, in which his teammates Cristian Zaccardo scored an own goal and Daniele De Rossi got sent off for an elbowing offence. Italy's performance was disappointing as they just managed to draw 1–1 with the USA in spite of playing the entire second half with a one-man-advantage. Zambrotta played the whole match without ever excelling.
In their last group match against Czech Republic on 22 June 2006, Italy needed only a draw to qualify from the group. After Zaccardo's poor performance in the previous match, Lippi decided to use Fabio Grosso instead; therefore Zambrotta was put on the right-back. With a one-man-advantage again and two goals from the substitutes, Marco Materazzi and Filippo Inzaghi, Italy won 2–0 and qualified as group winners.
Stage 2 
In the round of 16, Italy was facing the Group F runners up Australia on 26 June 2006. After playing two matches with a one-man-advantage, Italy were playing with 10 men this time in the second half as Materazzi was sent off at the 50th minute. They went on to win the game 1–0 courtesy of a 95th-minute penalty kick converted by Francesco Totti. Zambrotta again played the entire match on the right back position. He got a yellow card at the 46th minute for bringing the ball away after committing a foul, which meant any booking in the remaining games would bring him a suspension.
In the quarter-final on 30 June 2006, Italy was drawn against Ukraine. Zambrotta started the game at the right-back. He scored the opening goal after only 6 minutes with a left-footed long-range shot after a beautiful one-two with Francesco Totti. This was his second goal for his country and the first one in a FIFA World Cup match. Zambrotta's outstanding performance continued as he saved his team by a goal-line clearance at the 58th minute. After Lippi made some substitutions, Zambrotta was pushed up to a left midfield position. He immediately showed the effect of this position switch. At the 69th minute, he dribbled down the left flank into the edge of the penalty area and passed the ball across to Luca Toni to score his second goal in the match. Italy won the game 3–0. In the semi-final on 4 July 2006, Italy was facing the hosts Germany at Dortmund. Zambrotta started the match at right-back again. Neither of the teams were able to score in 90 minutes and the game went into extra time. In the 2nd minute of the extra time, right after teammate Gilardino hit the post in his attempt, Zambrotta had a strong shot on goal from outside the box. Although beating the German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, it struck the crossbar. When the game looked going into a penalty shoot-out, Italy scored 2 very late goals at the 119th and 121st minutes and won the game 2–0.
On 9 July 2006, Zambrotta played his first major tournament final with the national team after he missed the Euro 2000 final. Coincidently, France was Italy's opponents on both occasions. France were awarded a penalty kick in the 7th minute, but it took just 12 minutes for Italy to equalize. The scoreline remained the same for the rest of the match and it went into a penalty shoot-out. Zambrotta was not called upon to take a penalty as five of his Italian teammates made their attempts, while one of the players from France failed to convert their spot kicks (David Trezeguet), resulting in Italy winning the shoot-out 5–3. This was the first World Cup victory for Zambrotta and the fourth for his country.
Zambrotta's ability to play in multiple positions on either flank contributes great flexibility to the Italian squad, and earned him a place in the 23-man 2006 World Cup All-Star squad.
Zambrotta was also selected for the 2010 World Cup but was unable to help the team progress to the second round. Although Italy in 2010 has a poor performance he remained the only bright spot for the team.
- FC Barcelona
- AC Milan
- UEFA Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2006
- FIFPro World XI: 2006
- 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team
- Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana:(2006)
- Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana:(2000)
Career statistics 
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Europe||Total|
|Italy national team|
- "Gianluca Zambrotta". AC Milan website. AC Milan. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
- Presidenza della Repubblica Italiana – Le Onorificenze: Gianluca Zambrotta.
- "Piedone Zambrotta, tra Dylan Dog e Juve". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 10 January 1999. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Agreements with Spanish club FC Barcelona
- First choice for two seasons fcbarcelona.cat 13 June 2006 (Retrieved 13 June 2006)
- "Milan clinch Zambrotta deal". Sky Sports. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2008.
- "Zambrotta is Milan's!". acmilan.com. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2008.
- AC Milan agree Zambrotta deal fc.barcelona.cat 13 June 2006 (Retrieved 13 June 2006
- "Official: Zambrotta Signs For Milan". Goal.com. Retrieved 31 May 2008.
- "Zambrotta commits to Milan". Sky Sports. 22 July 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- Gianluca Zambrotta International – RSSSF. rsssf.com.
- FC Barcelona profile
- Gianluca Zambrotta's career timeline, photo gallery and detailed statistics
- Goal.com profile