Legrottaglie in 2010
|Date of birth||20 October 1976|
|Place of birth||Gioia del Colle, Italy|
|Height||1.89 m (6 ft 2 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|1996–1997||→ Pistoiese (loan)||31||(3)|
|1997–1998||→ Prato (loan)||26||(0)|
|2000||→ Reggiana (loan)||4||(1)|
|2000–2001||→ Modena (co-ownership)||32||(1)|
|2005||→ Bologna (loan)||9||(0)|
|2005–2006||→ Siena (loan)||28||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
In a senior career that lasted two full decades, he amassed Serie A totals of 259 games and 22 goals over the course of 12 seasons, representing in the competition Chievo, Juventus, Bologna, Siena, Milan and Catania. He won the 2011 national championship with the fifth club.
Early years / Chievo
Born in Gioia del Colle, Province of Bari, Legrottaglie began his career with A.S. Bari, having loan spells at A.C. Pistoiese and A.C. Prato. Following his return to Bari in June 1998 he was sold to A.C. Chievo Verona in the Serie B, appearing rarely in his second season with the team and, in January 2000, moved on loan to A.C. Reggiana 1919 in the third division; with his new club he also found playing opportunities hard to come by and, after his return to Verona, moved to the same level and in the same predicament, now with Modena FC.
In his season on loan at Modena Legrottaglie was a regular fixture in the starting XI, subsequently returning to Chievo for the club's first-ever season in Serie A. In his first year he only appeared in 15 games, as the club qualified for the UEFA Cup; in his second season, the defender established himself as a top division player, scoring four goals in 32 league appearances, with Chievo again finishing comfortably in mid-table (seventh).
In the 2003 off-season Legrottaglie was rewarded with a move to top level powerhouse Juventus FC. Juve paid €7.55million for his services to Chievo, €0.45 million being used in selling 50% of the rights to Giuseppe Sculli, Matteo Paro and Daniele Gastaldello.
Legrottaglie was a full member of the first team squad in the 2003–04 season, appearing in 21 games and netting twice under coach Marcello Lippi. However, following the appointment of new manager Fabio Capello, he fell down the defensive pecking order, making just two appearances in five months; subsequently he moved on loan to Bologna F.C. 1909 in the 2005 January transfer window, playing 11 matches – including twice in the promotion playoffs – for the Emilia-Romagna side.
Legrottaglie returned to Juventus in the summer of 2005, but was instantly loaned out to A.C. Siena for the 2005–06 campaign, alongside teammate Igor Tudor and some youth players. While at Siena he was again a first-team regular, appearing in nearly 30 games as his club finally avoided relegation. He again returned to Juventus in the summer of 2006 and, as an experienced player, was expected to play a role in the club's attempt to return to the top level following the Calciopoli scandal; however, he would only feature in ten contests out of 42 – also being shown a red card – with the Turinese eventually gaining promotion, as champions.
Following the promotion to the top flight, Legrottaglie was expected to transfer away from Juventus, despite the arrival of Claudio Ranieri as the club's new head coach. He came very close to complete a transfer to Beşiktaş J.K. on a three-year contract, worth £1.1 million per season: the Turkish were set to pay Juve £1.6 million for his transfer, but negotiations broke down at the last minute and hence, the player remained in Torino for their first season back in the top flight; under Ranieri he started the new season right where he left off, on the substitutes' bench, being fourth-choice behind Jorge Andrade, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Domenico Criscito.
Just four matches into the season however, a serious knee injury sidelined Andrade for the remainder of the season, and Legrottaglie was promoted to the starting eleven for the game against Reggina Calcio on 26 September, scoring the opener in a 4–0 routing. Criscito was loaned out to Genoa C.F.C. in January 2008 and, until the season's end, he paired with Giorgio Chiellini in central defense as Juventus allowed just nine goals in the first 14 matches following Andrade's injury (37 overall), finishing in third place; his contract ran originally until 30 June 2008, but in October 2007, due to his excellent form, he was awarded a two-year extension.
In 2008–09 Legrottaglie continued to be first-choice, despite the arrival of Olof Mellberg from Aston Villa (Andrade also was expected to return to first-team action, but he suffered a second serious knee injury). In September 2008, one month shy of his 32nd birthday, he signed another contract until June 2011, and featured in 27 league games as Juve finished second, thus qualifying for the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive season; veteran Fabio Cannavaro returned to the club in July 2009 following his spell with Real Madrid, and this relegated him to the bench for parts of the 2009–10 campaign – he ended with 19 league appearances, netting once.
On 31 January 2011, after Juventus signed central defender Andrea Barzagli, 34-year-old Legrottaglie – who made just eight appearances in all competitions comprised during the first half of the season, under new manager Luigi Delneri – left on a free transfer for fellow league side A.C. Milan, signing a six-month contract.
However, he was only able to make one league appearance for the eventual champions due to a serious head injury suffered during a 0–0 draw with S.S. Lazio. He was released on 30 June, following the expiration of his contract.
Legrottaglie revived his career overall under Vincenzo Montella. He finished 2011–12 with 35 official games and six goals, helping the club to a fourth successive season in which it broke its record points total in Serie A, finishing 11th.
On 20 November 2002, Legrottaglie made his Italy debut, in a friendly match with Turkey in Pescara, and went on to appear in a further six matches in a one-year span, mostly friendlies. He scored his only goal in April 2003, in a 2–1 victory over Switzerland.
Following solid performances at Juventus he received his first cap in four years, appearing in a friendly against Austria while filling in for injured teammate Chiellini in an 18 August 2008 contest held in Nice. His former Juventus coach Lippi was in charge of the national team.
On 2 May 2010, 33-year-old Legrottaglie was included in a 29-men provisional list for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, attending training camp in Rome, being then dropped from the 30-player list submitted to FIFA on the 11th, with Villarreal CF's Giuseppe Rossi and A.S. Roma's Daniele De Rossi taking his place. His only major international tournament was the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, with Italy exiting in the group stage.
|1.||30 April 2003||Geneva, Switzerland||Switzerland||2–1||Win||Friendly|
Style of play
Legrottaglie was praised by pundits for his physical attributes and his ability in the air, making him a goal threat from set pieces. A strong yet elegant player, he excelled in sliding challenges and at organising high defensive lines, also being gifted with good technical ability, passing range and vision, which allowed him to advance into the midfield. He was also tactically versatile, excelling at reading the game and possessing a powerful shot from distance.
Despite his reputation, Legrottaglie was also criticised at times for inconsistency and lapses in man-marking.
Legrottaglie is one of the most religious Italian footballers, quoting the Bible as his favorite book, which he credits with having him helped rediscover the joy of living and love for his fellow man.
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- Legrottaglie relishing Juve move; UEFA.com, 19 June 2003
- Juventus Football Club: Accordo con la società A.C. Chievo Verona per l’acquisizione del calciatore Nicola Legrottaglie (Juventus Football Club: Deal with A.C. Chievo Verona for acquisition of footballer Nicola Legrottaglie); Juventus FC, 19 June 2003 (Italian)
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- "Nicola Legrottaglie – Scheda tecnica" [Nicola Legrottaglie – Technical report] (in Italian). Juventinologo. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- Nicola Legrottaglie insists 'Homosexuality is a sin'; Goal.com, 18 March 2009
- "N. Legrottaglie – Trophies". Soccerway. Retrieved 21 December 2015.