Pierluigi Casiraghi with Lazio in 1993.
|Date of birth||4 March 1969|
|Place of birth||Monza, Italy|
|Height||1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|2002–2003||Monza (youth team)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Pierluigi "Gigi" Casiraghi (Italian pronunciation: [pierluˈidʒi ˈdʒidʒi kaziˈraɡi]; born 4 March 1969) is an Italian former footballer who played as a striker. Since retirement he has become a football manager, and is currently Gianfranco Zola's assistant manager at Qatari club Al-Arabi.
Casiraghi began his playing career in Italy in 1985, with Monza. He later played for Juventus, and Lazio, before ending his career with Chelsea in the Premier League. He retired after failing to recover from a cruciate ligament injury sustained in 1998. Casiraghi was a member of the Italy national football team that reached the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final, and was also a member of Italy's UEFA Euro 1996 squad.
Biography and playing career
Casiraghi was born in Monza, Lombardy, and began his career with his home-town side, A.C. Monza, in 1985. The side were relegated to Serie C in his first season, but he helped them achieve promotion back to Serie B in 1988. He moved to Serie A giants Juventus in 1989, having scored 28 goals in 94 games for Monza.
His goalscoring record in Turin was modest, achieving a best tally of 8 goals in 24 appearances in the 1990–91 season and a total of 20 in 98 games for the club. While at Juventus, he helped the side win two UEFA Cups (in 1990 and 1993) and one Italian Cup, also in 1990. He scored in the first leg of the 1990 UEFA Cup Final to help the Turin club defeat rivals Fiorentina. He earned his first international cap for Italy during his spell with Juventus.
He signed for Lazio in 1993 and scored 41 goals in a five-year spell. His most successful season was in 1996–97, when he scored 14 goals in 28 Serie A games. With Lazio, he won another Italian Cup, in 1998. He found his opportunities limited in his final season, with manager Sven-Göran Eriksson preferring Alen Bokšić and Roberto Mancini in attack and sought a move away.
Casiraghi joined English side Chelsea in May 1998 for £5.4million. His time in west London proved luckless, and ultimately only scored one competitive goal for the club in ten appearances, which came against Liverpool in a 1–1 draw at Anfield. His Chelsea career was cut short by a cruciate ligament injury sustained during a collision with West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop in November 1998. Despite going through ten operations, he was unable to make a comeback and his contract with the club was terminated in March 2002, after which he subsequently retired.
As an Italian international, Casiraghi won 7 caps, scoring 1 goal, for the Italy national under-21 football team between 1988 and 1990, and 44 caps, scoring 13 goals, for the Italy senior side between 1991 and 1998. He made his senior international debut on 13 February 1991, in a 1–0 win against Belgium, scoring his first goal for Italy in a 4–0 win over San Marino on 19 February 1992. He was a member of the Italy squad that reached the final of USA 94 under manager Arrigo Sacchi, playing in the group games against Norway and Mexico and the semi-final against Bulgaria. He was also a member of the Italy side at Euro 96, scoring both goals in a 2–1 win against Russia, but was guilty of missing a late chance against the Czech Republic that could have proved vital to the group standings, and as such the side was knocked out in the first round. Despite sealing Italy's qualification for France 98 with the only goal in a play-off against Russia in November 1997, he failed to make the squad for the final tournament under Cesare Maldini.
Style of play
Casiraghi was a centre-forward who was also capable of playing anywhere in the front line. Throughout his career, he became renowned for his ability in the air, and for having a penchant for scoring acrobatic goals. He was a strong, hardworking, and prolific forward, who was also capable of using his strength to hold up the ball to create space for team mates and provide them with assists.
He became manager of Italian Serie C2 side A.C. Legnano in May 2003. On 24 July 2006, he was appointed joint coach of the Italian Under-21 national team alongside former Chelsea team mate Gianfranco Zola, succeeding Claudio Gentile.
In his coaching tenure, Casiraghi led the azzurrini into the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, ending in fifth place after having eliminated Spain U-21 in the qualifying phase. He was successively confirmed for the 2008 Olympic Games campaign, which ended in the quarter-finals with a 3–2 loss to Belgium. He also helped the Italian youth side to win the 2008 Toulon tournament. In the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, his side, having lost several key players through injury and suspension, narrowly lost 1–0 to Germany in the semi-finals.
- UEFA Cup: 1989–90, 1992–93
- Coppa Italia: 1989–90
- Supercoppa Italiana: 1990 (Runner-up)
- Serie A: 1991–92 (Runner-up)
- Coppa Italia Serie C: 1987–88
- Stefano Bedeschi. "Gli eroi in bianconero: Pierluigi CASIRAGHI" (in Italian). Tutto Juve. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- "Liverpool 1 – 1 Chelsea". 4TheGame. 4 October 1998. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
- Sean Ingle (3 August 2000). "The end for Casiraghi". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- "Casiraghi vents anger at Chelsea". The Independent. 25 July 2000. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
- Martin Lipton (6 March 2002). "Chelsea in Casiraghi settlement". Soccernet. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
- "Nazionale in cifre: Casiraghi, Pierluigi". figc.it (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- "Casiraghi and Zola take on Italy Under-21 roles". Soccernet. 24 July 2006. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
- "Pierluigi Casiraghi". Eurosport. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "P. Casiraghi". Soccerway. Retrieved 21 December 2015.