Gianluca Zambrotta

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Gianluca Zambrotta
Football against poverty 2014 - Gianluca Zambrotta.jpg
Zambrotta at the Match Against Poverty in 2014
Personal information
Full name Gianluca Zambrotta[1]
Date of birth (1977-02-19) 19 February 1977 (age 39)
Place of birth Como, Italy
Height 1.81 m (5 ft 11 12 in)
Playing position Full-back
Youth career
1992–1994 Como
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–1997 Como 48 (6)
1997–1999 Bari 59 (6)
1999–2006 Juventus 217 (7)
2006–2008 Barcelona 58 (3)
2008–2012 Milan 80 (2)
2013–2014 Chiasso 10 (2)
Total 472 (26)
National team
1999–2010 Italy 98 (2)
Teams managed
2013 Chiasso (assistant)
2013–2015 Chiasso

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 13 May 2012.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 12 October 2010

Gianluca Zambrotta (Italian pronunciation: [dʒanˈluːka ddzamˈbrɔtta], Ufficiale OMRI; born 19 February 1977[2]) is a retired Italian professional footballer and manager, who played as a full-back or as a winger.

Throughout his club career, Zambrotta played for several different Italian clubs: he began his career with local club Como in 1994, and gained prominence while playing for Bari, which earned him a transfer to Juventus in 1999; during his seven seasons with the club, he won two consecutive Serie A titles in 2002 and 2003. He also later spent two seasons with Barcelona between 2006 and 2008, before returning to Italy to play for Milan, where he won his third Serie A title in 2011. He ended his career after a season with Swiss club Chiasso in 2014, whom he later went on to coach.

At international level, he won 98 caps for the Italian national team, playing at three World Cups, three European Championships, and the 2000 Olympics. He was part of their side that reached the Euro 2000 final, and he was also selected to the Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament. He was most notably a key member of the starting lineup of the Italian squad that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and he was selected in the Team of the Tournament for his performances.

Zambrotta was decorated as Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Cavaliere O.M.R.I.) in 2000 and he was made an Officer of the same order (Ufficiale O.M.R.I.) in 2006.[3]

Club career[edit]

Como[edit]

Zambrotta began his professional career with his hometown club, Como Calcio at the age of 17 in 1994, and remained with the club for three seasons. 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, as a winger or as a wide-midfielder. In the 1995–96 and 1996–97 seasons, he made 47 appearances and scored 6 goals, playing in Serie B and Serie C1.[4]

Bari[edit]

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. Zambrotta made his Serie A debut on 31 August 1997, in a 2–0 home defeat to Parma, and 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, demonstrating his technical attributes and tactical intelligence and versatility. In week 7, he scored the opening goal at San Siro and helped Bari to win the game 3–2 against Internazionale. On 10 February 1999, at the age of 22, the Italian Under-21 International was rewarded by the coach of Italy, Dino Zoff, for his displays. He earned his first cap in a 0–0 friendly against Norway in Pisa. 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)[5] and would play in the black-and-white jersey starting the season after.[4]

Juventus[edit]

After the transfer to Juventus on 1 July 1999, Zambrotta continued his upward momentum under manager Carlo Ancelotti. 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 1999–2000 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 by a single 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 in Serie A, behind Roma. Zambrotta won his first Scudetto in the 2001–02 season, while he made 32 league appearances and scored one goal during the season, also reaching the 2002 Coppa Italia final with the club. 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 campaign. During his absence, the new signing of 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, demonstrating his pace, stamina, work-rate, technical ability, his tactical intelligence and versatility, as well as his ability to contribute both offensively and defensively. He remained a regular first team player as Juventus won their second consecutive scudetto and reached the Champions League final, in which they were defeated by Milan in a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw. The following season, Juventus avenged the defeat by beating Milan to the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana on penalties, although they failed to retain their league title or progress in Europe. Zambrotta won four Scudetti with Juventus, making a total of 217 league appearances and scoring seven goals in six seasons. In the 2005–06 season, 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-fullback or wingback positions frequently throughout the season. In 2005, Zambrotta extended his contract to 2010 but, following Juventus' relegation to Serie B due to Calciopoli, as well as the revocation of their 2004–05 and 2005–06 Serie A titles under Fabio Capello, he decided to leave the club in summer 2006 with Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona widely tipped to sign him. He was eventually transferred to Barcelona for €14 million.[6] He signed a four-year contract with Barça, where he joined Juventus teammate Lilian Thuram, who also left the club. During his seven-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, Thuram, Jonathan Zebina, Nicola Legrottaglie, Alessandro Birindelli, Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini. Overall he made 297 appearances for Juventus, scoring ten goals.[4]

Barcelona[edit]

Zambrotta training with Barcelona.

On 4 August 2006, after his holiday following the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Zambrotta reported to his new club for the first time in Los Angeles, where Barcelona stayed for their pre-season tour in North America. 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 Supercopa de España.[7] On 17 March 2007, he scored his first goal in the league game against Recreativo de Huelva. He also netted goals in matches against Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderó (Atlético's record largest home loss, 0–6) and Gimnàstic de 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 semi-final return clash—he marked perfectly the future Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo all game, but made a poor clearance in midfield that ultimately led to Paul Scholes' long-range effort that decided the match and the two-legged tie 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.

Milan[edit]

Zambrotta warming up with Milan prior to an UEFA Cup match.

On 31 May 2008, Zambrotta signed a three-year contract with Milan.[8][9] The club paid €9 million to Barcelona, with a potential €2 million added on depending on Milan's performance in the Champions League, for his services.[10] Zambrotta would reportedly be earning €4 million per year.[11] 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, Zambrotta scored his first goal for Milan, from 31 metres out, in the league game against Lazio. In the 2008–09 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, as well as the Supercoppa Italiana.

He renewed his expiring contract for another year, keeping him a Milan player until at least the summer of 2012.[12]

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.[13] He played his final game for Milan against Novara on 13 May 2012.

Chiasso[edit]

After becoming a free agent, in December 2012, Zambrotta began training with his hometown club Como, while he was waiting to receive offers from other clubs;[14] Zambrotta had previously been named the club's honorary president in 2007.[15] In 2013, he began to work on obtaining his UEFA Pro Coaching Licence in Coverciano.[16][17]

On 19 July 2013, Zambrotta signed with Swiss club Chiasso, with an option to become a player-assistant manager during his second season with the club, under Ernestino Ramella.[18] He made his debut with the team on 11 August 2013, in a 0–0 draw against Lugano, in the 2013–14 Swiss Challenge League.[19] On 27 November, following the dismissal of manager Ryszart Komornicki, with the club in last place, Zambrotta was named player manager;[20][21] at the end of the season, he helped Chiasso avoid relegation on 14 May 2014, also announcing the end of his playing career.[22] He continued to manage Chiasso the following season, but was eventually sacked on 6 April 2015.[23]

International career[edit]

Under-21 and early senior career[edit]

Soon after Zambrotta was brought to Serie A, he gained the attention of the Italian 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 second goal for Italy on the 43rd minute and helped Italy to win 2–1. In 1998, he played in all six games of the Italy U21 while they won five of them and drew the last one against Spain.[4]

It was on tour with the under-21 team that Zambrotta earned the nickname 'the Mermaid' for his allegedly spending one hour every night in front of the mirror grooming at his now trademark goatee.[citation needed] 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. He featured in Italy's senior squad at Euro 2000, under manager Dino Zoff, in which they reached the final, with Zambrotta making four appearances throughout the tournament. Zambrotta missed out on Italy's defeat at the hands of the defending World Champions France in the final, however, after being sent off in the semi-final match against co-hosts the Netherlands following a double booking.[4][24]

Zambrotta played for the U21 side for the 2000 Olympic Games in September. He started in games against Australia and Honduras which Italy won 1–0 and 3–1 respectively. Since they 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 were defeated by Spain, who would go on to win the silver medal, by one goal in the quarter-final. Under new manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Zambrotta also represented the Italy senior side at the 2002 FIFA World Cup,[25] where Italy were controversially eliminated in the round of 16 by co-hosts South Korea, on a golden goal.[4][26]

Euro 2004[edit]

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 a warm-up 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.[27] 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, and was elected to be part of the team of the tournament.[4][28] In Italy's final group match against Bulgaria, which inded in a 2–1 victory the Italians, he was involved in both of his team's goals, setting up Cassano's injury time winner, although Italy finished third in their group on direct encounters, following a three-way five point tie with Sweden and Denmark.[29]

2006 World Cup[edit]

Gianluca Zambrotta after the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-final against Germany.

New coach Marcello Lippi, who had just resigned as the Juventus manager where he had managed Zambrotta, moved him to right-back. He became a core player in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, featuring in eight of the ten matches to help Italy qualify as group winners. On 15 May 2006, he was chosen as one of the 23 players to participate in the finals in Germany.

During final preparations, 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 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. Medical ultrasonography scans on Zambrotta's thigh in the final days before Italy's first group match revealed that he would only miss the opening game against Ghana.

Zambrotta made his tournament debut in the second group match against the United States as a left-back, the match endeding in a 1–1 draw. In their last group match, against the Czech Republic on 22 June, Italy needed only a draw to qualify from the group. Zambrotta was moved to the right-back position as his team won the match 2–0 and advanced as group winners.[4]

During Italy's closely fought 1–0 over Australia in the round of 16, Zambrotta received a booking in the 91st minute.[30] In the quarter-final on 30 June, Italy defeated Ukraine 3–0, with Zambrotta scoring the opening goal after six minutes with a left-footed long-range shot after a one-two with Francesco Totti. This was his second goal for his country. Zambrotta's outstanding performance continued as he saved his team by a goal-line clearance in 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. In 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 of the match.[31][32][33]

Zambrotta also participated in Italy's semi-final victory over the host nation, Germany, hitting the cross-bar in extra time,[34] and he also played in Italy's victorious final victory over France.[35]

Zambrotta's ability to play in multiple positions on either flank contributed to the tactical flexibility of the Italian squad, and earned him a place in the 23-man 2006 World Cup All-Star squad.[4][36]

Euro 2008[edit]

Zambrotta was selected by new manager Roberto Donadoni to represent Italy in UEFA Euro 2008, held in Austria and Switzerland. He played in all Italy's games in the tournament. In the first group stage match, Italy faced the Netherlands; Zambrotta was not at his best in a match as Italy fell 3–0. In the next match, against Romania, Zambrotta made a defensive error that was followed by Romania's 1–0 goal, scored by Adrian Mutu. Christian Panucci, however, scored just one minute later to tie the match at 1–1. Close to the end of the match, Romania was awarded a penalty, but Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon saved Mutu's shot, securing a 1–1 draw.[37] Italy defeated France 2–0 in their final group match to advance to the quarter-finals.[38] In the quarter-finals, Italy fell to Spain on penalties (4–2) after a 0–0 draw, knocking them out of the tournament.[39]

2009 Confederations Cup[edit]

Late in 2008, World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi returned to coach of Italy, selecting Zambrotta for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Italy, however, failed to progress past the first round, eliminated on goal differential after finishing level on points with the United States.[40]

2010 World Cup[edit]

Zambrotta was selected for the 2010 World Cup by Lippi. Despite the Italian team's struggles, Zambrotta was one of his nation's strongest performers in the group stage. Italy earned 1–1 draws in their first two games against Paraguay and New Zealand, collecting two points, and subsequently needing a draw in their final group match against Slovakia in order to proceed the second round. The team's final fixture against Slovakia saw two Italian goals being disallowed by the referee, as Italy lost the match 3–2, and were eliminated from the tournament in the first round.[41]

Last international matches[edit]

After the World Cup, Lippi resigned, with Cesare Prandelli named his replacement. In the first matches under Prandelli, Zambrotta was largely omitted from the squad, but he returned to play in several UEFA Euro 2012 qualifiers. Zambrotta played his last match in Italy colours against Serbia in late 2010. This match was Zambrotta's 98th and last Italy cap. In total, he scored two goals for Italy between 1999 and 2010.[42]

Style of play[edit]

Zambrotta is regarded by pundits as one of Italy's greatest attacking full-backs/wing-backs.[43] Although naturally right-footed, he was an ambidextrous player who excelled both at offensive and defensive play, which made him tactically versatile, allowing him to be deployed on the left as well as on the right side of the pitch, as a full-back or wing-back in a 4 or 5-man defence, or even as a winger or wide midfielder, a position in which he was often played earlier on in his career.[43][44][45] His main attributes were his pace, marking ability, tackling, strength, tenacity, and stamina.[44][45] A tenacious and hard-working player, he was also gifted with good technique and ball skills, as well as an excellent crossing ability and a powerful shot from outside the area.[43][45]

Personal life[edit]

He was born in Como, but his paternal grandfahter was from Caserta.[46]

As of 2005, Zambrotta is married to Valentina Liguori, an Italian model;[47] they announced the birth of their first son, Riccardo, in August 2012.[48]

Zambrotta was named honorary president of his hometown club Como in 2007.[15]

In 2012, Zambrotta worked as a pundit for the Swiss-Italian broadcasting station RSI.[49] 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.[50]

In 2014, Zambrotta opened a fitness complex in his hometown of Como, called Eracle Sports Centre.[51]

In 2015, he took part in and won the RAI 2 reality television game show Monte Bianco - Sfida verticale.[52]

Career statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
1994–95 Como Serie B 1 0 0 0 - 1 0
1995–96 Serie C1 14 2 1 0 - 15 2
1996–97 33 4 1 0 - 34 4
1997–98 Bari Serie A 27 2 2 2 - 29 4
1998–99 32 4 4 0 - 36 4
1999–2000 Juventus Serie A 32 1 2 0 12 2 45 4
2000–01 29 3 0 0 - 29 3
2001–02 32 1 6 1 9 0 47 2
2002–03 26 1 3 0 13 0 42 1
2003–04 30 1 6 0 5 0 41 1
2004–05 36 0 0 0 12 0 48 0
2005–06 32 0 2 0 8 0 42 0
Spain League Copa del Rey Europe Total
2006–07 Barcelona La Liga 29 3 5 0 6 0 40 3
2007–08 29 0 5 0 6 0 40 0
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
2008–09 Milan Serie A 34 1 1 0 6 0 41 1
2009–10 24 0 1 0 5 0 30 0
2010–11 15 0 1 0 5 0 20 0
2011–12 7 1 1 0 3 0 11 1
Country Italy 400 20 31 3 76 2 506 25
Spain 58 3 10 0 12 0 80 3
Total 459 23 41 3 88 2 587 28

International[edit]

[53]

Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
1999 3 0
2000 8 0
2001 8 0
2002 8 0
2003 8 0
2004 10 1
2005 7 0
2006 10 1
2007 6 0
2008 12 0
2009 12 0
2010 6 0
Total 98 2

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 30 May 2004 Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès, Tunisia  Tunisia 4–0 4–0 Friendly
2. 30 June 2006 Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany  Ukraine 1–0 3–0 2006 FIFA World Cup

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 14 February 2015
Team From To Competition Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
Chiasso 27 November 2013 6 April 2015 Swiss Challenge League 39 11 12 16 43 58 −15 28.21
Swiss Cup 2 1 0 1 2 1 +1 50.00
Total 41 12 12 17 45 59 −14 29.27

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Gianluca Zambrotta following the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final in Berlin, Germany on 9 July 2006.
Juventus[4]
Barcelona[4]
Milan[4]

International[edit]

Italy[4]

Individual[edit]

Orders[edit]

Ufficiale OMRI BAR.svg
4th Class / Officer: Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: (2006)[54]
Friedrich Order.png
Collar of Merit Sports: Collare d'Oro al Merito Sportivo: (2006)[55]
Cavaliere OMRI BAR.svg
5th Class / Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: (2000)[56]

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