Montolivo playing for Italy at the UEFA Euro 2012
|Full name||Riccardo Montolivo|
|Date of birth||18 January 1985|
|Place of birth||Caravaggio, Italy|
|Height||1.82 m (5 ft 11 1⁄2 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 04:14, 13 June 2016 (UTC).
Riccardo Montolivo (Italian pronunciation: [rikˈkardo montoˈlivo]; born 18 January 1985) is an Italian professional footballer who plays for Serie A club A.C. Milan, where he is the captain, and the Italian national team as a midfielder.
A versatile and creative cone, Montolivo started his career with Atalanta in 2003 before being transferred to Fiorentina in 2005. He went on to make more than 250 appearances for the club in seven years. In 2012, he signed for Milan on a free transfer and was given the club's captaincy the season following the departure of Massimo Ambrosini.
Montolivo made his debut for the Italian senior team in 2007 against South Africa and has since then represented the country in two FIFA Confederations Cups (2009 and 2013, winning a bronze medal in the latter edition of the tournament) as well as in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, where he played as a starter in the final; he also took part at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Montolivo is a graduate of the Atalanta youth academy. He made his debut for the club in a Serie B match against Piacenza coming on the field as an 81st-minute substitute for Michele Marcoliniego. His first starting match came in a 2–1 win against Hellas Verona. From that match onwards, he became frequent member of the starting line-up and scored his first goal against Bari in a 2–0 win. Atalanta placed fifth and was promoted to the Serie A through playoffs.
He missed the first matches of his debut season in the Serie A because he was out with an injury. He made his Serie A debut in a 2–2 draw against Lecce. He scored goals in consecutive matches against Cagliari and Parma. On 23 January 2005, he got the first red card of his career in a match against Lecce. Atalanta finished last in the 2004–05 Serie A and was relegated. Montolivo won 32 caps and scored three goals in his debut season in the Serie A.
In the summer of 2005, Fiorentina signed Montolivo in a co-ownership deal for €3.5 million. He penned a five-year contract. He was given the jersey number 18. During the 2005–06 season, Montolivo's first-team chances were limited, partly due to the fact that he was still an inexperienced player and partly because manager Cesare Prandelli had a relatively stable and reliable squad of players at his disposal. The young man's talents did not go unrecognised though. He became a fixture in Italy's under-21 team, coached by Pierluigi Casiraghi. He made his debut in Fiorentina's colours in a 2–1 loss against Internazionale.
Despite being associated with the Calciopoli scandal, Fiorentina signed Montolivo on a permanent basis the following season for €2 million. He played a total of 36 matches for Fiorentina, scoring two goals. He also declared that he will continue playing for the Viola.
The 2007–08 season started well for the Viola midfielder; in the first match day, he was as one of the best on the field against Empoli, against which he also scored a splendid goal with a lob. The season followed with ups and downs, but during its course Montolivo confirmed himself as one of the best talents in Italian football.
His good form earned him a spot for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. As he sustained an injury while playing in the competition, he missed the first round of 2008–09 Serie A against Juventus. He scored a crucial brace as Fiorentina defeated Udinese 4–2 after being down 0–1 in the first half. Montolivo scored two more goals against Sampdoria and Napoli as he ended the season with two goals, two more than his previous season. On 17 January 2009, he captained Fiorentina for the first time in a 1–0 defeat to Milan.
In 2009–10 season he was made club-captain following the departures of the then captain Dario Dainelli. He also expressed that the departure of Dainelli and Martin Jørgensen had weakened the team, but with Sébastien Frey and Marco Donadel, he formed a strong midfield. Despite gaining attention from big clubs he said that Fiorentina was his house and he would not change his club.
Again, the next season started with injury for Montolivo—he had a small problem with his ankle. However, he was operated and it was remedied. His form saw him included in Italian squad for 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored goals against Palermo and Cesena as he ended his account scoring two goals in 29 matches.
In the beginning of his last season, 2011–12, Montolivo said he would leave Fiorentina after his contract expired, with an intent to play in a team of a higher caliber. As a result, he was stripped from his captainship and the armband was given to Alessandro Gamberini with Stevan Jovetić as the vice-captain. He made his 200th appearance for the club in a 2–0 loss against Palermo on 27 November 2011.
In May 2012, Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri announced that Montolivo would join the club on a free transfer when his contract with Fiorentina expired on 30 June. He penned a four-year contract with the club. "Next season, Montolivo will arrive and he is a very talented player with great technique," said Allegri to Milan Channel. He chose to wear the number 18 jersey which he had worn before and which was last worn by Alberto Aquilani in Milan.
In the Milan derby though he was highly praised for his performance, the referee disallowed a stunning 30-yard volley by Montolivo due to a challenge committed by Urby Emanuelson. On 30 October, Montolivo scored his first goal for Milan, coming in the 69th minute after Milan were down 2–0 to Palermo. Milan eventually drew the match 2–2, salvaging a point.
On 25 November, against Juventus, a match won 1–0 by Milan, he played his first match as Milan's captain as Daniele Bonera and Massimo Ambrosini were suspended and Christian Abbiati was injured. He ended the first season at the club by becoming one of the two (the other being Stephan El Shaarawy) most used players of the season. On 11 June 2013, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani stated that Montolivo would be the next captain for Milan, after previously announcing that current club captain Massimo Ambrosini would not be extending his contract with the Rossoneri.
After getting captainship, he opened his account by scoring against Catania. He then scored in a 4–3 defeat to Sassulo. On 13 April 2014, Montolivo scored an astonishing long-range strike in the 23rd minute against Catania, which extended Milan's winning streak to four matches. After breaking his leg in a pre-World Cup friendly against the Republic of Ireland on 31 May, Montolivo was ruled out for six months and made his return in a 2–0 win over Udinese on 30 November.
Montolivo scored the winning goal when Italy's under-21 team defeated Spain 2–1 and qualified for the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship on 10 October 2006. One year and seven days later, he made his debut for the senior team in a 2–0 friendly win against South Africa. Despite being ineligible for the 2007–08 season of the under-21 team, Montolivo capped once for the de facto Olympic team against the Dutch Olympic team in February 2008, where he was eligible for Beijing as underage player.
Montolivo was included in Italy's provisional squad for the UEFA Euro 2008 by head coach Roberto Donadoni. He was, however, omitted from the final squad of 23 players. The same summer, Pierluigi Casiraghi called-up Montolivo to participate in the Olympic Games in Beijing. He scored one goal in four appearances as Italy were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Belgium.
In October 2007, Montolivo was called by Roberto Donadoni to face Georgia in the UEFA Euro qualifiers. He did not play in that match but made his debut in a 2–1 win in a friendly against South Africa. In May 2008, Montolivo was included in Italy's preliminary squad for UEFA Euro 2008 but he was omitted from the 23-man final squad. However, Donadoni said that Montolivo would be a key part of Italy's midfield in the future. His second appearance came over a year after the first, against Bulgaria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification.
In June 2009, he was selected to play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Italy were eliminated at the group stage. Montolivo started the match against Brazil but played the other two matches as a substitute. In 2010, Montolivo was named in Marcello Lippi's squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Due to the injury sustained by Andrea Pirlo, he started Italy's first two group matches against Paraguay and New Zealand. In the third match, Montolivo was again in the starting line-up but was replaced by Pirlo in the 56th minute, as the Azzurri lost 3–2 to Slovakia and were eliminated.
Montolivo scored his first senior international goal in a 2–1 friendly win against Spain in Bari. Montolivo made four appearances at the UEFA Euro 2012, playing as a false attacking midfielder in Prandelli's 4–3–1–2 formation, as Italy progressed to the final, where they lost 4–0 to Spain. In the semi-final match against Germany, he assisted Mario Balotelli's second goal of the match with a long ball, as the Italians advanced to the final after a 2–1 win.
Montolivo was named in Italy's 30-man preliminary squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup under Cesare Prandelli, but was ruled out of the tournament after suffering a broken leg in a friendly match against the Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage on 31 May.
After initially being named to Antonio Conte's 30-man provisional squad for UEFA Euro 2016, on 31 May 2016, Montolivo was omitted from the final 23-man squad due to injury. He returned to the national team under Conte's successor, Giampiero Ventura, making a substitute appearance in a 3–1 friendly home defeat to France on 1 September.
Style of play
Montolivo has been described as a versatile player capable of playing anywhere in the midfield. His main and favoured role is in the centre as a deep-lying playmaker, which best utilises his technical ability, creativity, vision, and range of passing, although he is also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, even though this is not his preferred position; he also possesses an accurate and powerful shot from outside the area. With the Italian national team, under Cesare Prandelli, Montolivo also played in a new role as false attacking midfielder in a 4–3–1–2 formation, in particular at Euro 2012. In recent years, he has also been praised for his work-rate, and for his defensive attributes, including his ability to break down possession and subsequently start attacking plays, which led manager Siniša Mihajlović to deploy him as a ball-winner. Montolivo has also drawn criticism at times, however, for his lack of pace, and has been accused of being inconsistent.
In addition to holding an Italian passport; Montolivo also holds a German passport—his mother is from Ascheberg, and his grandparents are from Heidkate at the Kieler Förde on the Baltic Sea coast, where he spent all of his summers as a youth. He looks upon Francesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane and Frank Lampard as his idols.