Luigi Di Biagio
Di Biagio in 2011
|Date of birth||June 3, 1971|
|Place of birth||Rome, Italy|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive Midfielder|
|Italy U21 (coach)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Luigi Di Biagio (Italian pronunciation: [luˈidʒi diˈbjadʒo]; born June 3, 1971), is an Italian former football defensive midfielder, who last played for Ascoli Calcio 1898 (2006–07), and who also played for the Italian national side between 1998 and 2002. He currently coaches the Italy U-21 team. In 2010 he temporarily worked as a football pundit. On the 19th September, he assisted Riccardo Trevisani in the commentary for Palermo-Inter, during the third matchday of the 2010-2011 Serie A season, which was broadcast through Sky Sport.
Biography & Club career
Di Biagio was born in Rome. He initially played for Lazio (1988–89), making his Serie A debut with the side, and later played for Monza (1989–92) in Serie B and Serie C1, winning the Coppa Italia C1. He later moved on to play for Foggia (1992–95) under Zeman, where he gained promotion to Serie A once again, establishing himself as a defensive minded central midfielder in the starting lineup of the club, and reaching the semi-final of the Coppa Italia during the 1994-95 season, attracting the attention of bigger Italian clubs.
Di Biagio began to achieve greater international exposure and fame in Italy due to his excellent and consistent performances whilst playing for Roma (1995–99), where he remained for five seasons, under Carlo Mazzone, Carlos Bianchi, and Zeman once again, and where he would make his debut in European Competitions. During his time at Roma, he was able to help the squad to a fourth place finish during the 1997-98 season, and managed to subsequently reach the quarter-finals of the 1998-99 UEFA Cup and the 1997-98 Coppa Italia. His consistent performances led him to become a permanent member of the Italian national side during this period. Di Biagio would make 140 appearances for Roma in all competitions, scoring 18 goals. 15 of his goals were scored in Serie A in 114 appearances.
At the beginning of the 1999-2000 Serie A season, Di Biagio transferred to Internazionale, and became a regular first team member due to his continued high standard of performance. Di Biagio remained at Inter until 2003, and during his four years at the club, he amassed 163 appearances, scoring a total of 18 goals in all competitions. He subsequently moved to Brescia Calcio (2003–2006) during his later career, where he played alongside Roberto Baggio during the 2003-04 season, frequently playing as a sweeper or as a centreback/secondary defensive playmaker in Brecia's three-man defence. Although Di Biagio managed a personal best of 9 goals in Serie A the following year, Brescia were relegated to Serie B during the 2004-05 season, and Di Biagio finished his final season at Brescia playing in the Italian second division during the 2005-06 season.
Di Biagio signed for Ascoli in November 2006, but the bid was not considered to be valid by the federation, since the player was not released for free by Brescia before the June 30 deadline. The bid was therefore postponed until January 2007, and in the meantime Di Biagio went on training with Ascoli, and played from November to December with Promozione club Polisportiva La Storta from Rome, coached by his friend and former Dundee and Lazio footballer Alessandro Romano. Di Biagio played his first Ascoli match on January 14, 2007, against Cagliari. He collected only 7 appearances that season, scoring two goals in 523 minutes. Ascoli finished second last in Serie A that season and were relegated to Serie B. retired at the end of the season, and returned to Polisportiva La Storta as a youth coach.
Despite his reputation and ability, Di Biagio had an unfortunate club and international career, failing to win a major trophy, and only winning the Coppa Italia Serie C1 with Monza. At club level, he did manage to reach the semi-finals of the 2001-02 UEFA Cup with Inter, losing out to eventual Champions Feyenoord. He also reached the semi-finals of the 2002-03 Champions League with Inter, under Hector Cuper, losing out to cross-city rivals and eventual Champions Milan on away goals. He also managed to win runners up medals in Serie A during the 2002-03 season, in the Coppa Italia during the 1999-2000 season, and the Italian Supercup in 2000, all with Inter. With the national side, Di Biagio managed a runners-up medal at Euro 2000.
Di Biagio was a regular member of the national side during the late 90s and early 2000s, and was capped 31 times for Italy, scoring two goals. He represented Italy at u23 level at the Mediterranean games, where they reached the final. He made his debut in January 1998 against Slovakia, under Cesare Maldini.
After a strong season with Roma, Di Biagio represented his country in the 1998 World Cup, appearing in each of Italy's five matches, and notably scoring a headed goal from a Roberto Baggio cross in the second group stage match against Cameroon, which ended in a 3-0 for Italy. In the round of 16 match against Norway, Di Biagio set up Vieri's match winning goal, and helped Italy to keep a clean sheet. Despite a strong tournament, he missed the decisive penalty in the Quarter-final shootout against hosts and eventual champions France, after a 0-0 deadlock following extra time.
Di Biagio continued to be a key player under Dino Zoff, and he went on to represent Italy at Euro 2000, starting alongside Albertini in midfield, and winning a runners-up medal. Di Biagio had another successful tournament for Italy, and he scored Italy's first goal against Sweden, heading in a Del Piero corner, in Italy's final group match, which ended in a 2-1 win, and which allowed Italy to top their group and progress to the Quarter finals. In the victorious semi-final penalty shootout against co-hosts the Netherlands, he took Italy's first penalty, and was able to convert it successfully on this occasion. It was the first penalty he had taken after the infamous miss which struck the crossbar during the 1998 World Cup, which ultimately eliminated Italy from the competition.
Under Giovanni Trapattoni, Di Biagio was also a member of Italy's 2002 World Cup squad that was eliminated by co-hosts South Korea in the Round of 16 on a golden goal. Di Biagio made only one appearance in the tournament, however, playing in Italy's 2-0 opening win against Ecuador, where he assisted Vieri's second goal of the match with a long ball, in the 27th minute. He made his final appearance for Italy in a friendly match against Turkey on the 20th November 2002, in Pescara.
Following his retirement from Ascoli in 2007, Di Biagio returned to football, signing a contract with the amateur 1993 youth side La Polisportiva La Storta as a youth coach, in 2008. In August 2007, he signed a contract with Cisco Roma as a youth coach. In July 2008, he had managed to officially obtain his first degree coaching licence.
On the 25 July 2011, he was named the coach of Italy's under-20 side. On the 2nd July 2013, Luigi Di Biagio stepped up an age group to replace Devis Mangia as Italy's under-21 coach. He made his debut as the Italy under-21 coach on the 14th August 2013, in a friendly match against Slovakia, which was won 4-1 by Italy. He eventually helped the u-21 side to qualify for the upcoming 2015 Under-21 European Championship.
Style of play
Di Biagio was one of Italy's best and most consistent midfielders during the later 90s and early 2000s, consistently providing excellent performances for Roma, Inter and the National side. Di Biagio was a complete, tenacious and combative defensive midfielder, whose best strengths involved breaking up the opposition's attacks, although he was also capable of getting forward when needed and starting build-up plays. He was also known to be a strong, aggressive and tough-tackling midfielder, who had a knack for picking up cards; after Paolo Montero, he is the player with the most red cards in Serie A history. Although he was primarily a defensive midfielder, he was capable of playing anywhere in midfield due to his tactical versatility, and he also played as a sweeper, as a full-back and as a central defender later in his career, once he lost his pace. Di Biagio was gifted with power, stamina, and tactical intelligence, as well as an acute defensive awareness and positional sense. He combined these attributes with a surprising technical ability, and was also capable of functioning as a secondary playmaker due to his ball control, vision and passing range. He also possessed a powerful shot from distance, and was a dangerous free kick and penalty kick taker. He also excelled in the air, which made him lethal in the box during set-pieces.
- Coppa Italia C1: 1990-01
- "Tactical Formation". Football-Lineups.com. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
- "A Coverciano scatta la carica dei disoccupati". Retrieved 21.7.14. Check date values in:
- "BBC Sport, Euro 2000 Profile: Luigi Di Biagio". Retrieved 20.7.14. Check date values in:
- "Centrocampo aggressivo con Di Biagio e Ambrosini?". Retrieved 20.7.14. Check date values in:
- "Totti, 11 espulsioni. Nessuno ‘rosso' come lui tra i giocatori in attività della Serie A". Retrieved 20.7.14. Check date values in:
- "AC Monza Hall of Fame: Luigi Di Biagio". Retrieved 20.7.14. Check date values in: