Sebastian Giovinco

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Sebastian Giovinco
Giovinco 230515.jpg
Giovinco playing for Toronto FC in 2015
Personal information
Full name Sebastian Giovinco
Date of birth (1987-01-26) 26 January 1987 (age 29)
Place of birth Turin, Italy
Height 1.62 m (5 ft 4 in)[1]
Playing position Attacking midfielder, Forward
Club information
Current team
Toronto FC
Number 10
Youth career
1996–2006 Juventus
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2006–2015 Juventus 93 (14)
2007–2008 Empoli (loan) 35 (6)
2010–2012 Parma (loan) 66 (22)
2015– Toronto FC 61 (39)
National team
2007–2009 Italy U21 20 (1)
2008 Italy U23 10 (3)
2011– Italy 23 (1)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 16 October 2016.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23 October 2015

Sebastian Giovinco (Italian pronunciation: [seˈbastjan dʒoˈviŋko]; born 26 January 1987) is an Italian professional footballer who plays for Canadian club Toronto FC, and the Italian national team as a forward.

An explosive and creative player on the ball, with excellent vision and technical skill, he is a free-kick specialist and capable of playing in several offensive positions.[2] Due to his short stature, dynamic abilities and pace, Giovinco acquired the nickname formica atomica ("atomic ant," after the eponymous Hanna-Barbera character) during his time with Italian club Juventus, as well as during his stints on loan with Italian clubs Empoli and Parma;[3][4] with Juventus, he won two Serie A titles.[4] After moving to Toronto FC in 2015, he broke the league's record for most combined goals and assists in a season during his first year with the club, also helping Toronto to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club's history, and winning himself the MLS Golden Boot, the MLS Newcomer of the Year Award, and the MLS MVP Award. The following season, he won the 2016 Canadian Championship with Toronto, and became the club's all-time top goalscorer.

At international level, Giovinco has represented Italy at the 2008 Summer Olympics, UEFA Euro 2012; winning a runners-up medal, and at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup; winning a bronze medal.[4] In 2015, he was named one of the 100 best footballers in the world by The Guardian,[5] FourFourTwo,[6] and L'Équipe.[7]

Early life[edit]

Giovinco was born in Turin to a Sicilian father and a Calabrian mother who moved from Southern Italy.[8] He grew up in Beinasco, a comune southwest of the city, in a family of Milan fans and joined the Juventus youth system when he was nine.[9] He then flourished through the ranks of the club and impressed especially during the 2005–06 season, winning the Campionato Primavera and reaching the final at the Viareggio Tournament, where he was named best player of the competition.[10] His younger brother Giuseppe was also part of the Juventus youth team until 2010, and is now playing for Lega Pro Prima Divisione club Savona.

Giovinco was promoted to the first team during the 2006–07 season and also played his last season in the Primavera squad. His debut came on 12 May 2007 in the Serie B match against Bologna, entering in as a substitute in place of Raffaele Palladino. He marked his debut with a splendid assist for David Trezeguet's tap-in. Since then, he had been tipped to be Alessandro Del Piero's heir in the trequartista/rifinitore or fantasista role.[11][12] Juventus won the Serie B title that season, earning promotion to Serie A the following season.

Club career[edit]

Loan at Empoli[edit]

On 4 July 2007, Giovinco was loaned out to Empoli with his good friend and teammate Claudio Marchisio. Giovinco made his European debut in the UEFA Cup in September and scored his first Serie A goal on 30 September 2007 when Empoli beat Palermo 3–1. Empoli were unable to avoid relegation and he returned to Juventus in June.


In June 2008, Giovinco and Claudio Marchisio both returned to Turin after enjoying a successful spell in Tuscany. Giovinco played his first match for Juventus on 24 September 2008 against Catania. He was substituted on for Pavel Nedvěd late in the second half and made an immediate impact, assisting Amauri to score the only goal of the match. On 7 December, he scored his first goal for Juventus, a free kick against Lecce in a 2–1 win.[13] In October 2008, he signed a contract extension, tying him to Juventus until the summer of 2013.[9] He ended the season with three goals in all competitions, including a volley against Bologna, where he turned in a Man of the Match performance as Juventus won 4–1.

Despite a bright start, Giovinco did not play regularly and made sporadic appearances throughout the season, both in the starting XI and off the bench, as he struggled to fit into Claudio Ranieri's preferred 4–4–2 formation. The signing of attacking midfielder Diego in the 2009 summer transfer window confined him to the bench, but new manager Ciro Ferrara confirmed that the youngster would be the back-up to the Brazilian international. When Ferrara was forced into a tactical switch due to injuries to first choice midfielders Mauro Camoranesi and Claudio Marchisio during various times, Giovinco was inserted into the starting line-up and on one occasion, he helped Juve to a 5–1 thumping of Sampdoria in only his fourth start of the season.[14] Under Ferrara's successor, Alberto Zaccheroni, he hardly featured at all due to the changes in formation and his position was taken by young midfielder Antonio Candreva, a winter loan signing from Udinese. In April, he sustained a training ground injury and was ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing tests.[15]


On 5 August 2010, Parma announced the signing of Giovinco on loan from Juventus, with an option to buy 50% of the player's transfer rights at the end of the season.[16][17] He made his debut against Brescia in a 2–0 win and scored his first goal for Parma on 12 September 2010, a free kick in a 2–1 loss to Catania. An impressive start to the season earned Giovinco a call up to represent the Italian national team.[18] On 6 January 2011, Giovinco scored two goals for Parma in a 4–1 win against his parent club, Juventus. Towards the end of the season, he again scored against Juventus. After a very promising debut season, Parma exercised the option to buy 50% of Giovinco's contract for a fee of €3 million.[19]

The 2011–12 season again saw Giovinco in fine form, leading the team in goals and assists in helping the Parma to an eighth-place finish in Serie A. At one point early on in the season, he led the league's scoring charts. In his most prolific scoring season as a professional, Giovinco notched 15 goals and 11 assists in league play. He also scored a stunning volley from 30 yards out against Siena in the penultimate match of the season.[20] His remarkable performances led Parma President Tommaso Ghirardi to declare Giovinco worth more than €40 million.[21]

Return to Juventus[edit]

Giovinco playing for Juventus in the 2012–13 season

On 21 June 2012, Juventus announced that it had purchased the other 50% of Giovinco's transfer rights from Parma for €11 million, tying him to the Turin club until 30 June 2015.[22] Although he had stated that he would have been pleased to wear the number 10 shirt, which was vacated after Bianconeri legend Alessandro Del Piero left the club, Giovinco was handed the number 12 jersey under manager Antonio Conte.[23] On 11 August 2012, Giovinco won his first title with Juventus, helping the team to defeat Napoli 4–2 in the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana final. Giovinco started in the first league match of the 2012–13 season against his former club, Parma. Juventus won the match 2–0, although Giovinco suffered a minor injury two minutes from the end of the game.[24] In the following league match against Udinese on 2 September, Giovinco scored two goals and won a penalty, which was converted by Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal, as Juventus went on to defeat the Friuli team 4–1 in Udine.[25]

Giovinco scored his first career UEFA Champions League goal against FC Nordsjælland on 7 November, a match which Juventus won 4–0 at Juventus Stadium.[26] He scored the third goal as Juventus beat defending champions Chelsea 3–0 at home,[27] and also contributed to Juventus' 1–0 away win against Shakhtar Donetsk, which allowed Juventus to top their group undefeated and advance to the knockout stages for first time since the 2008–09 tournament.[28] Giovinco scored his fifth league goal of the season in the Derby della Mole against Torino, also recording an assist on one of Claudio Marchisio's two goals in a 3–0 victory at home.[29] Giovinco scored the only goal of the match in a Coppa Italia 1–0 win against Cagliari, allowing Juventus to progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.[30] Juventus eventually managed to retain their Serie A title that season, with Giovinco managing 7 goals in the league, and 11 in total in all competitions, as Juventus reached the quarter-finals of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, and the semi-finals of the 2012–13 Coppa Italia, only to lose out to the winners of the respective competitions, Bayern Munich and Lazio.[31]

Giovinco missed out on Juventus's 2013 Supercoppa Italiana victory, and he initially went scoreless in the 2013–14 season until finally netting a notable goal in a 3–2 win over rivals Milan on the 6 October 2013.[32] Giovinco fell out of form again, but he managed to break his goal drought on the 14 April 2014, with a notable goal against Udinese, taking the ball past a defender and scoring with a left footed curling shot from outside the area.[33] Overall, Giovinco managed 2 goals in 17 Serie A appearances that season, and one goal in the Coppa Italia, as Juventus won their third, consecutive Serie A title. During the 2014–15 season under Massimiliano Allegri, Giovinco scored two goals in a 6–1 win over Hellas Verona in the Coppa Italia, on the 15 January 2015, helping Juventus to the quarter-finals of the competition; both of his goals came in the first half, with the first coming from a free-kick, and the second in injury time.[34]

Toronto FC[edit]

2015 season[edit]

Giovinco playing for Toronto FC during the 2015 MLS season.

On 19 January 2015, Giovinco signed with Canadian team Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).[35] He was set to join the team upon the completion of the Serie A season in July 2015. He signed a five-year contract with a reported annual salary of $7 million, making him the highest paid player in MLS ahead of Orlando City SC's Kaká,[36] and the highest paid Italian player in all leagues until the arrival of Andrea Pirlo to New York City FC later that year.[37][38] On 2 February, Juventus announced that Giovinco had left the club five months earlier than originally expected in order to kick-start his career in MLS with Toronto FC.[39] Giovinco made his debut for Toronto against Vancouver Whitecaps on 7 March.[40] He provided an assist for Jozy Altidore's equalising goal in the 32nd minute. He scored his first goal for Toronto FC on 4 April, in a 3–2 loss to Chicago Fire, also later setting up Benoît Cheyrou's goal.[41] On 13 May, Giovinco scored and assisted a goal in a 3–2 home win over Montreal Impact in the return leg of the 2015 Canadian Championship semi-finals, although Montreal progressed to the final on away goals, having won the home leg 1–0.[42] After setting up two goals in TFC's 3–1 home win over San José on 30 May, Giovinco was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters, for week 13 of the 2015 MLS season.[43] Following his two goals in Toronto FC's 2–1 away win over D.C. United, he was named MLS Player of the Week for a second consecutive time the following week.[44]

On 12 July 2015, Giovinco achieved Toronto FC's first ever hat-trick in MLS play against New York City FC in a 4–4 draw at Yankee Stadium, and set up the fourth goal during the match, also missing a penalty. It was also the third fastest hat trick scored in the league's history at 9 minutes.[45] Following the match, he received the player of the week award for the third time in the 2015 MLS season.[46] After scoring and assisting in a 2–1 home win over Philadelphia Union on 18 July 2015,[47] Giovinco was one of the 22 players to be named to the 2015 MLS All-Star Game roster,[48] although he was later ruled out of the match due to injury, and replaced by his team-mate Altidore.[49] On 5 August 2015, Giovinco scored a hat-trick in a 4–1 home win over Orlando City to bring him to the top of the MLS scoring tables with 16 goals, also breaking the club's single-season record of 15 goals set in 2010 by Dwayne De Rosario in the process.[50] On 6 August 2015, he was named the Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month for July 2015.[51] On 14 August 2015, Giovinco's free-kick goal against Orlando City was awarded the MLS Goal of the Week Award.[52] On 29 August 2015, he was substituted in the 51st minute in a 2–1 win over Montreal Impact due to an adductor strain; although it was reported that the injury was not serious, he was ruled out indefinitely.[53] On 3 September 2015, he was named the MLS Player of the Month for August, winning the award for a second consecutive time.[54] He returned to the starting line-up in Toronto's 3–1 home defeat to the New England Revolution ten days later.[55]

On 26 September, Giovinco broke the MLS single-season points record for combined goals and assists, previously held by Chris Wondolowski, with his 15th and 16th assists of the season in a 3–2 home win over Chicago, bringing his total points tally to 35.[56] Upon review the following day, Jonathan Osorio's goal from a Giovinco "cross" was later credited as Giovinco's goal by the MLS, which meant that he broke another record, by becoming the first player to manage at least 20 goals and 10 assists in a single MLS season, as his 16th assist was changed to his 20th goal.[57]

On 14 October, after coming off the bench, he scored the decisive goal in a 2–1 home win over New York Red Bulls, when he started a dribbling run past several players on the left flank, which culminated in a left-footed strike just inside the area; the win allowed Toronto FC to qualify for the MLS playoffs for the first time in their history.[58] This goal was later nominated as a finalist for the MLS Goal of the Year Award, but was beaten out by Krisztián Németh.[59] Several pundits praised his performances, expressing the opinion that this goal was the best goal of the season, and the greatest in Toronto FC's club history.[60] The pundits also praised Giovinco as arguably not only one of the top players of the current MLS season,[61] but also already as one of the greatest players in MLS history.[62] Giovinco had just returned from international duty earlier that day, having appeared for Italy the day before in a Euro 2016 qualifying match in Rome.[58] On 25 October 2015, Giovinco assisted Altidore in a 2–1 away defeat to Montreal in the final match of the regular season, ending the regular season with 22 goals and 16 assists,[63] which allowed him to win the 2015 Audi MLS Golden Boot as both the joint top-scorer (alongside Kei Kamara) and the top-assist provider of the league in his first year with the club, with a record 38 points;[64][65] as a result, he became the first MLS player ever to win both the top scorer and the top assist provider awards in the same season, as well as the first Italian and Toronto FC player to win these awards.[66] In the playoffs, Toronto were eliminated in the knock-out round, following a 3–0 away defeat to domestic rivals Montreal Impact on 29 October.[67] In November 2015, Giovinco was named one of the three finalists for both the 2015 MLS Newcomer of the Year Award and the 2015 MLS MVP Award,[68] winning both awards on 23 November and 2 December respectively,[69][70] while three days before the latter, on 29 November, he was named to the MLS Best XI.[71] On 30 December, Giovinco was named the "Transaction of the Year" by MLS.[72]

2016 season[edit]

Giovinco started off his second season with an 82nd-minute penalty in a 2–0 away win over Supporters' Shield holders New York Red Bulls; he later also set up Marco Delgado's goal in added time.[73] On 16 April, he scored the fastest goal in Toronto FC history at 57 seconds in a 1–0 away win over D.C. United, surpassing the previous record holder Reggie Lambe's by one minute and 50 seconds set in 2012.[74] A week later, he scored both goals in a 2–0 win away to the Montreal Impact in the 401 Derby;[75] with these goals, he equalled De Rosario as the club's all-time top scorer in the MLS with 28 goals in 40 appearances.[76] Giovinco was named to the Team of the Week for his performances.[77] On 7 May, Toronto's home opener, he set up rookie Tsubasa Endoh for his first ever MLS goal in a 1–0 win over FC Dallas, at the newly renovated BMO Field.[78] On 14 May, Giovinco overtook De Rosario as the club's outright all-time top scorer in the MLS, scoring two goals and setting up another in a 4–3 home defeat to Canadian rivals Vancouver.[79] On 29 June, Giovinco helped Toronto win the Canadian Championship over Vancouver 2–2 on aggregate, winning on away goals, as he scored the only goal in the first leg on 21 June.[80] On 14 July, he won the 2016 Best MLS Player ESPY Award.[81] In July 2016, Giovinco was included in the roster for the 2016 MLS All-Star Game.[82] After an eight-game goal drought, Giovinco scored a hat-trick against D.C. United, on 23 July, in a 4–1 home win, also surpassing De Rosario's previous all-time record as Toronto FC's top scorer by two goals to 35 goals.[83] With two goals from free-kicks during the match, including his seventh in the MLS, he broke David Beckham's record for most goals from set-pieces in the league since 2010.[84] He was named to the Team of the Week once again for his performances,[85] and was also named MLS Player of the Week for the first time that season.[86] On 27 August, Giovinco was brought off the field after the later diagnosis of strains in his quadriceps and adductor in the eventual 1–0 loss in the 401 Derby with Montreal at home;[87] although he was was initially expected to be sidelined for a month, the injury was more severe than expected, and he ended up missing seven weeks of play. He finally returned to action on 16 October, against Montreal once again, helping to set up Toronto's equaliser in a 2–2 away draw.[88]

International career[edit]

Youth career[edit]

Giovinco has represented Italy at every youth level from the under-16 level onwards. He was called up to Italy under-21 by head coach Pierluigi Casiraghi to make his U-21 debut in the 2009 European Championship opening qualifier on 1 June 2007 and was instrumental in their 4–0 thrashing of Albania.[89]

Giovinco (furthest right) lining up at the 2008 Toulon Tournament.

He also played at the 2008 Toulon Tournament, where he was voted most valuable player, scoring two goals in the opening game against the Ivory Coast,[90] and netting the winning penalty in the semi-final match against Japan.[91] Italy ultimately won the competition, defeating Chile 1–0 in the final. That summer, he and Juventus teammates Claudio Marchisio and Paolo De Ceglie were named in the squad for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.[92] He scored the first goal in a 3–0 win against Honduras in the first match of the competition where he struck the ball from outside of the box with his weaker left foot and also impressed in the match against South Korea. Though, his strong performances could not prevent the Azzurrini from losing 3–2 in the quarter-final against Belgium.

In the summer of 2009, Giovinco was called up to the U-21 side for the European Championships in Sweden after playing a part in their successful qualifying campaign. He formed strong partnerships with Robert Acquafresca and Mario Balotelli in an impressive three-pronged attack. Giovinco started in every single match at the tournament, but Italy lost to eventual winners Germany 1–0 in a tightly contested semi-final.[93]

Senior debut, Euro 2012 and 2013 Confederations Cup[edit]

With Juventus enduring a difficult season, his international career stagnated. He was called up for the first time in nearly two years after some good performances while on loan at Parma and made his senior team debut on 9 February 2011, in the friendly game played against Germany in Dortmund, which ended in a 1–1 draw;[94] in his second international appearance, against Ukraine, he provided an assist from a back-heel for Alessandro Matri's goal as Italy won the match 2–0 in Kiev.[95] After some promising substitute appearances, manager Cesare Prandelli stated that he would give Giovinco his full debut as a starter alongside Antonio Cassano.[96]

Giovinco playing for Italy in 2012.

Giovinco was named part of Italy's 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2012. Giovinco appeared as a substitute in the two opening group matches of the tournament against Spain and Croatia, almost assisting a goal against Spain in the opening match, as the earlier goalscorer Antonio Di Natale put his lobbed pass over the bar.[97][98] Italy finished runners up to Spain in the final in a heavy 4–0 loss.[99]

Giovinco started in the first game of Italy's 2014 World Cup Qualification campaign against Bulgaria in Sofia. The match ended in a 2–2 draw.[100] He scored his first goal for Italy in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup group stage match against Japan, wearing the number 10 shirt, and ensuring a 4–3 win, which allowed Italy to progress to the semi-finals.[101] In the semi-finals, Giovinco came on during the second half of extra time. The match ended 0–0 and went to penalties. Giovinco netted his penalty for Italy, however, Spain won 7–6 due to Leonardo Bonucci's miss.[102] Italy subsequently won the bronze medal match against Uruguay, also on penalties, after the match had ended 2–2 after extra time.[103] Due to the lack of playing time during the 2013–14 season, Giovinco missed out on the 2014 World Cup and was not named in the provisional nor the final squad.[104]

Euro 2016[edit]

On 14 October 2014, Giovinco was called up by the new Italy manager, and his former Juventus manager, Antonio Conte, for an UEFA Euro 2016 qualification match against Azerbaijan in Palermo, which Italy won 2–1. Giovinco came on during the second half, and he helped set up Giorgio Chiellini's second, match-winning goal, also hitting the cross-bar towards the end of the match, from a strike outside the area, after an individual dribbling run.[105]

Following his strong performances for MLS side Toronto FC, Giovinco was called up to the national team once again in August 2015 for Italy's Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Malta and Bulgaria in September, and was set to become the first MLS player to represent Italy. He was ultimately ruled out of both matches after sustaining an adductor injury against Montreal Impact,[106] and New York City FC's Andrea Pirlo became the first MLS player to play for Italy, during the same qualifiers. In October 2015, he was named to the Italian national team for the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Norway on 10 and 13 October.[107] He made a substitute appearance in Italy's 3–1 away win over Azerbaijan, which guaranteed the Italians a place at Euro 2016; he came on in the 79th minute and later hit the cross-bar from a free-kick after being fouled by Badavi Guseynov, who was subsequently sent off.[108] On 13 October, he came off of the bench once again and was involved in both goals as Italy came from behind to defeat Norway 2–1 in Rome, and top their group.[109] On 23 May 2016, Giovinco, along with fellow MLS compatriot Pirlo, was left off of Conte's 30-player shortlist for Italy's Euro 2016 squad. Regarding their omission, Conte commented in a press conference, "When you make a certain choice and go to play in certain leagues, you do so taking it into account that they could pay the consequences from a footballing viewpoint".[110] In response to his omission, Giovinco stated, "I was upset. I need to keep improving so I can find my place back on the national team; I've said before, the league is continuing to grow and it's a beautiful league."[111]

Style of play[edit]

Giovinco with Juventus in 2012.

Giovinco is a small, quick, technically gifted, and agile player, with noted dribbling skills, balance, and excellent ball control;[112] these characteristics allow him to beat opponents, hold up the ball with his back to goal, and create space for team-mates, despite his lack of strong physical attributes.[3][113][114][115][116] Although he is capable of scoring goals, he also possesses notable playmaking skills, and he is known for his vision, creativity, and his passing and striking ability with both feet, despite being naturally right footed,[2][117] as well as his accuracy on free kicks.[116] Giovinco is capable of playing in several offensive positions, and he is usually deployed as a second striker, as a winger, or as a creative attacking midfielder,[2][4][114][117][118] although he is also capable of playing in a more offensive, central role as a main striker.[119]

Personal life[edit]

Although Giovinco was born in Torino his father, Giovanni, is originally from Bisacquino in the province of Palermo, Sicily, while his mother, Elvira, is from Catanzaro, in Calabria. His brother, Giuseppe, is also a footballer, who currently plays for Lega Pro club Savona, also as a second striker; the two brothers grew up together playing in the Juventus Youth Academy.[120] In May 2013, Sebastian and his partner Shari celebrated the birth of their first child, Jacopo.[121]


Giovinco features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series; he appeared on the cover of the MLS custom edition of FIFA 16.[122]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 23 October 2016
Club Season League Cup1 Continental2 Other3 Total Ref.
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Juventus 2006–07 Serie B 3 0 0 0 3 0 [123]
2008–09 Serie A 19 2 3 1 5 0 27 3 [124]
2009–10 15 1 0 0 4 0 19 1 [124]
2012–13 31 7 3 2 7 2 1 0 42 11 [124]
2013–14 17 2 2 1 11 0 30 3 [124]
2014–15 7 0 1 2 3 0 11 2 [124]
Totals 92 12 9 6 30 2 1 0 132 20
Empoli (loan) 2007–08 Serie A 35 6 1 0 1 0 37 6 [124]
Parma (loan) 2010–11 30 7 2 0 32 7 [124]
2011–12 36 15 2 1 38 16 [124]
Totals 66 22 4 1 70 23
Toronto 2015 MLS 33 22 1 1 1 0 35 23 [123][124]
2016 28 17 3 1 0 0 31 18 [123][124]
Totals 61 39 4 2 1 0 66 41
Career totals 254 79 17 9 31 2 2 0 305 90


As of 13 October 2015[123][125]
Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
2011 6 0
2012 8 0
2013 3 1
2014 4 0
2015 2 0
Total 23 1

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
No Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 19 June 2013 Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil  Japan 4–3 4–3 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup




Youth Squad

Senior Squad[127]



Italy U-21



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External links[edit]