||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2009)|
|Full name||Marco Gabbiadini|
|Date of birth||20 January 1968|
|Place of birth||Nottingham, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|1996||→ Birmingham City (loan)||2||(0)|
|1997||→ Oxford United (loan)||5||(1)|
|1998||→ York City (loan)||8||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Marco Gabbiadini (born 20 January 1968) is an English former footballer whose career lasted 18 years from 1985 to 2003. He totalled nearly £3 million in transfer fees and played for 12 different clubs, scoring a total of 226 league goals.
Marco Gabbiadini was born to an English mother and an Italian father in Nottingham, and was educated at Nunthorpe Grammar School in York. He started his professional career at York City after being signed as an apprentice by Denis Smith at the age of 16 in 1982. His talent was spotted immediately and shortly afterwards he was quickly drafted into the England Under 18 team in order to avoid being tied to playing for Italy, the birthplace of his father. By the time Gabbiadini was 17 he had made his York City debut in the 3–0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers. From then on he quickly established himself in the first team and went onto notch 18 goals in 50 starts and 21 sub appearances for the Minstermen. He also scored his first hat-trick at the age of 18 during York's 4–1 Freight Rover Trophy victory against Darlington.
However the departure of manager and mentor Denis Smith would see him leave York in order to follow Denis Smith to Sunderland for a transfer fee of £80,000 on 23 September 1987. Sunderland had been relegated to Third Division and needed a goalscorer to help fire them back to Second Division and Gabbiadini was seen by Smith as the perfect signing. Despite this Gabbiadini's signing was seen as risky, as in order to raise funds to sign him, Smith had to sell one of Sunderland's most popular players, midfielder Mark Proctor, to Sheffield Wednesday. Gabbiadini made his Sunderland debut in the 2–0 defeat to Chester City at Roker Park. His first goals for Sunderland would come only three days later in a 3-0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage as he scored twice, a feat he would match in the next two games. He would quickly establish himself as a key player and a crowd favourite for Sunderland by scoring on a regular basis, and is known in Wearside folklore as part of The G-Force thanks to the partnership he struck up with Eric Gates. In his first season at the club Gabbiadini scored 21 goals in 35 league appearances to help fire Sunderland to the Third Division championship and he became such an important player that manager Denis Smith once said, "If I agreed to sell Marco, then I might as well sack myself".
Gabbiadini's second season at Sunderland was just as successful in the Second Division and he proved that he could score at a higher level. However his disciplinary record was brought to light as he received his first red card in the FA Cup replay defeat to Oxford United. Gabbiadini's red card was blamed for Sunderland's defeat as it made them a man down and put them at a disadvantage. Months later, Gabbiadini's discipline would once again be put under the spot light when he lashed out and assaulted an Ipswich Town player while celebrating a hat-trick. Despite missing 11 games through suspension Gabbiadini finished as Sunderland's top scorer, notching 18 goals in 36 league appearances as well as 5 in 8 cup matches. He also became Sunderland's first player to win the North East Player of the Year award, which was decided by football writers.
Gabbiadini's third season on Wearside would see his prowess in front of goal continue as his 22 goals in 49 league appearances helped clinch Sunderland's place back in the top flight. Highlights of that season included a hat-trick against Watford F.C. at Roker Park on 9 September 1989, and the goal that Gabbiadini is most fondly remembered for, the 2nd in a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James Park on 18 May 1990, in the play-off semi-final clinching Sunderland's place in the Wembley final, although Swindon Town won the game 1-0 through a Gary Bennett own goal, Sunderland went on to claim their place in the First Division as Swindon were refused entry due to a series of financial irregularities by the Swindon Town board.
Gabbiadini found it more difficult in the First Division, Gates had now left the club and the partnership Gabbiadini created with new signing Peter Davenport struggled to live up to the glory days of The G-Force and he would struggle to score as regularly as previous seasons. He notched just 9 goals in 31 games, which at the time was his lowest total for any club season and Sunderland were relegated.
The following season would prove to be Gabbiadini's last on Wearside after starting the season on fine form scoring 5 goals in 9 appearances, including a spectacular six minute hat-trick against Charlton Athletic at Upton Park on 17 September 1991. Those goals would prove to be his last for the club. His final appearance in a red and white shirt would come four days later in a 2-1 defeat to Grimsby Town at Roker Park on 21 September 1991 in front of a crowd of 16,535. Only two days later Gabbiadini broke Wearside hearts by leaving the club.
In total Gabbiadini made 185 appearances for Sunderland scoring 87 times, an average of a goal every 2.13 games.
Shortly after the start of the 1991–92 season, Gabbiadini was sold to Crystal Palace for a club record transfer fee of £1.8 million. He was seen as a replacement for Ian Wright, who joined Arsenal for £2.5 million in September 1991.
However, Gabbiadini failed to live up to expectation and he made just 25 starts and scored just seven goals before transferring to Derby County for £1 million four months later, which made Derby the third club that he had played for in the space of a season. In its bid to mount a serious promotion challenge, Derby County invested heavily in players around the period of Gabbiadini's arrival. Gabbiadini's first full season at the Baseball Ground, saw him featuring up-front alongside fellow million pound and strikers Paul Kitson and Tommy Johnson, signings from Leicester City and Notts County, respectively. During Gabbiadini's first full season at Derby, he was named Derby's Player of the Year. He would become an established first team player for Derby up until the team got promoted to the Premiership.
In order to survive relegation Derby sought to bring in new players and Gabbiadini found his first team opportunities limited and he was also hampered by knee injuries. He played just 14 games for the rams and saw himself being loaned out to Birmingham City and Oxford United. His loan spell at Birmingham was cut short after he suffered another injury.
Gabbiadini then decided to move abroad and signed for the Greek side Panionios. Despite signing a year contract, he became unsettled and moved back to England.
He was then offered a contract at Stoke City on a monthly basis. Gabbiadini failed to impress for Stoke and scored just once in nine appearances and he was not offered a permanent contract.
This saw Gabbiadini return to York in order to resurrect his career. However while at York he only made 7 appearances, scoring just one goal. York manager, Alan Little, told the board that Gabbiadini was "past his best" and they decided not to offer him an extended contract.
Gabbiadini then joined his eighth club Darlington, where he spent a further two-years of his career. Gabbiadini was an immediate success for Darlington and he went on to score more than 50 goals for the club. During his second season, Gabbiadini helped Darlington reach the play-offs. However after the first semi-final leg against Hartlepool, Gabbiadini was assaulted by a fan. During that season he was also named as Sky Sports Division Three Player of the Season and he would later be named as Darlington's greatest ever player. Despite his success at Darlington, Gabbiadini decided to leave the club in order to play at a higher level with Northampton Town.
During his first season at Northampton, Gabbiadini established himself in the first team and played in all of their league teams and scored a memorable goal against Cardiff City at Ninian Park where he managed to score from the halfway line. However, he only managed to score six league goals. During the next two seasons for Northampton, injuries stalled Gabbiadini's progress and he would find it more difficult to establish himself as a regular first team player. He also found himself often used as a midfield rather than as a striker. At the end of Gabbiadini's third season his contract was not renewed despite him scoring 14 goals and finishing as Northampton's top scorer. Gabbiadini participated in over 100 league and cup games for Northampton and scored over 30 goals.
Hartlepool United and Retirement
Gabbiadini's availability alerted his former club, Darlington, who offered him a contract and even let him train with them. However, Gabbiadini decided to sign for arch rivals Hartlepool United instead. Gabbiadini's signing was initially met with discontent as a Hartlepool fan had previously assaulted him and he was considered an enemy of the club. However, Gabbiadini won the fans over by scoring seven goals in 12 starts and six substitute appearances. His final two goals were in Hartlepool's 4–0 FA Cup victory over Whitby Town. Gabbiadini then suffered knee injuries and was advised by doctors not to continue playing and was then denied to play against his old club Sunderland in Hartlepool's FA Cup match. Gabbiadini announced his retirement in January 2004 after making over 750 appearances in all competitions.
Gabbiadini represented England U21 in the 1989 Toulon Tournament, which was won by France, his first appearance came in a 3-2 loss against eventual finalists Bulgaria on 5 June 1989, his second coming in another loss, this time 2-0 to the USA team in the third place play-off game on 11 June 1989. Gabbiadini would go onto represent the England B squad. The game was played at Roker Park on 24 April 1990 against Czechoslovakia. England won the game 2-0.
Life after football
Since retiring, Gabbiadini has run a restored Victorian hotel in York with his family. The hotel won Guest House of the Year in the 1999 at the York Tourism Awards. Gabbiadini has also hinted that he would be interested in television work and was a Sky pundit for Hartlepool's play-off match against Bristol City in 2004.
Since August 2009, Gabbiadini has co-presented Total Sport on BBC Newcastle with Simon Pryde and John Anderson.
- Marco calls it quits, Evening Press
- Knee problem forces Marco to hang up boots, Northern Echo
- Career Retrospective: Marco Gabbiadini, PoolsOnline.tk
- BBC.co.uk: Gabbiadini quits football