5 July 2021

Alberto Gilardino - World Cup winner

Prolific goalscorer now on coaching ladder

Alberto Gilardino helped Italy win the World Cup in 2006
Alberto Gilardino helped Italy win
the World Cup in 2006
The footballer Alberto Gilardino, who was an important member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad and is one of the all-time top 10 goalscorers in Serie A, was born on this day in 1982 in the province of Biella in Piedmont.

A striker, Gilardino, who enjoyed his peak years as a player with Parma, AC Milan and Fiorentina, totalled 188 goals in Serie A matches, putting him ninth on the all-time list.  He had scored 100 Serie A goals by the age of 26, one of the youngest to achieve that milestone.

As an Italy international, he played under coaches Marcello Lippi, Roberto Donadoni and Cesare Prandelli, scoring 19 goals in 57 appearances, having made his mark previously in the country’s Under-21 team, for whom he was all-time top scorer with 19 goals in 30 games and was captain of the side that won the 2004 European Under-21 championships.

Under Lippi, he was a key figure at the 2006 World Cup, starting all three group games and the first knock-out round alongside Luca Toni, scoring Italy’s goal against the United States in the group stages. He lost his place to Roma’s Francesco Totti in the later knock-out rounds but came on as a substitute in the historic semi-final win over hosts Germany, hitting a post and providing the assist for Alessandro del Piero’s goal in extra time.

Gilardino was part of the AC Milan side coached by Carlo Ancelotti (above)
Gilardino was part of the AC Milan side
coached by Carlo Ancelotti (above)
In club football, although he scored more goals during his spells with Parma and Fiorentina, it was his three seasons with AC Milan that brought him the most tangible success.

Signed for €25 million in July 2005 after scoring 51 goals in 97 Serie A games for Parma, he was part of the team coached by Carlo Ancelotti that won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007.

He retired as a player in 2018 and is currently coaching in Serie D with Siena, following the traditional pathway for coaches in Italy, who traditionally hone their skills in the lower divisions before taking on the top jobs.

Born in the town of Cossato, about 10km (six miles) from Biella and 80km (50 miles) northeast of Turin, Gilardino played for local youth teams before he was spotted by Piacenza, who signed him and gave him his Serie A debut at the age of just 17 in January 2000.

Although Piacenza were relegated, Gilardino made sufficient impact to earn a move to another Serie A club, Hellas Verona. 

Gilardino scored 48 Serie A goals in his time with Fiorentina
Gilardino scored 48 Serie A goals
in his time with Fiorentina
He suffered a setback in April 2001 in the shape of a serious road accident, swerving his car off the road into a canal while driving his sisters, Silvia and Cosetta, to their home in Treviso. Despite sustaining an injury to his back, he managed to open the doors of the vehicle before it sank and was able to drag his sisters to safety.

But he returned to action the following season and it was not long before his move to Parma established him as a top-class striker, scoring 51 goals in not much more than two seasons and winning his first cap for the senior national team, for whom he made his debut in September 2004.

The big-money move to Milan followed, although despite winning major medals he never quite won the full trust of manager Carlo Ancelotti, who left him out of his starting line-up for the 2007 Champions League final in spite of his decisive goal in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Gilardino, who became famous for celebrating his goals by dropping to his knees and simulating the motion of playing a violin, left Milan in May 2008 for Fiorentina, where he scored 48 goals in 118 games. From Florence, his career took him to Genoa, Bologna, Guangzhou Evergrande in China, Palermo, Empoli, Pescara and Spezia before he turned to coaching at the age of 37. 

Siena is his third club as a coach. He has presided over only eight defeats in 20 matches with the Tuscan team, who recently confirmed him as their head coach for the 2021-22 season.

In 2009, he married his girlfriend, Alice Bregoli, at La Cervara Abbey in Santa Margherita Ligure, in the province of Genoa. They have three children. 

UPDATE: After leaving Siena in October 2021, he joined Genoa as under-19 coach in July 2022 before being appointed head coach of the senior team in December 2022 and winning promotion to Serie A.

The Castello di Castellengo is in the province of Biella
The Castello di Castellengo is
in the province of Biella 
Travel tip:

Gilardino hails from the town of Cossato, a town in Piedmont in the province of Biella, an area notable for its medieval castles, such as the Castello di Castellengo, at the centre of a beautiful wine-producing estate. Biella itself is a well-established town of almost 45,000 inhabitants in the foothills of the Alps, about 85km (53 miles) northeast of Turin and slightly more than 100m (62 miles) west of Milan. Its attractions include a Roman baptistery from the early 1000s and the church and convent of San Sebastian. Wool and textiles have been associated with the town since the 13th century and brands such as Cerruti 1881, Ermenegildo Zegna, Vitale Barberis Canonico and Fila still have a presence.

Siena's Piazza del Campo is one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe
Siena's Piazza del Campo is one of the
most beautiful medieval squares in Europe
Travel tip:

Siena is perhaps best known as the venue for the historic horse race, the Palio di Siena. The race takes place in the Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped open area which is regarded as one of Europe’s finest medieval squares. It was established in the 13th century as an open marketplace on a sloping site between the three communities that eventually merged to form the city of Siena.  The city's cathedral, with a pulpit designed by Nicola Pisani, is considered a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.

Also on this day:

1466: The birth of military leader Giovanni Sforza

1966: The birth of footballer Gianfranco Zola

1974: The birth of motorcycle champion Roberto Locatelli

1982: Paolo Rossi scores a World Cup hat-trick for Italy against Brazil


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