Christian Abbiati is a retired Italian professional footballer who is currently a club manager at A.C. Milan, a club for which he had also previously played as a goalkeeper. Abbiati, who had been with Milan since 1998, started his career with Monza, and later played more than 300 official matches for Milan. He also spent loan spells at Borgosesia Calcio, Juventus, Torino and Atletico Madrid. His honours include three Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, two Supercoppa Italiana victories, one UEFA Champions League and one UEFA Super Cup. Although he was selected by Italy at UEFA Euro 2000 (where the team reached the final), and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he did not represent the nation until he made his international debut in a 2–1 friendly win against Switzerland in 2003. In total, he was capped four times by the national team. Abbiati in 2017 still holds the record for the most appearances as a goalkeeper for Milan. In his prime, Abbiati was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Italy, although he has also attracted controversy after expressing his far right wing political views.
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Abbiati, who had been with Milan since 1998, due to his performances, broke into the starting line-up, and in the final match of the season on 23 May, he made several decisive saves, including one on Cristian Bucchi, as Milan celebrated winning the Scudetto following a 2–1 away win over Perugia. He then became Milan’s undisputed first choice goalkeeper for the next four years, until he lost his starting spot to backup Dida early in the 2002–03 season after picking up an injury during a Champions League qualifying match in August 2002. Dida’s top form effectively grounded Abbiati’s playing time to a halt. Despite his relegation to the bench, Abbiati still managed to contribute to Milan’s Coppa Italia and Champions League victories that season.
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In his prime, Abbiati was a physically strong, reliable and reactive keeper. Throughout his career, he stood out for his longevity, work-rate, leadership and composure in goal, as well as his ability to rush off of his line or come out to claim crosses, despite initially being somewhat indecisive in this area in his youth. Although his performances became more inconsistent during the later years of his career, he was initially regarded as one of the most talented young Italian goalkeepers of his generation since his emergence with Milan in Serie A during the late 1990s, and he subsequently cemented himself as one of the best Italian goalkeepers of his generation.
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In September 2008, Abbiati sparked controversy and criticism from the Italian media when he declared he was a fascist during an interview with Italian sports magazine Sportweek. He later stated he rejected the Fascist racial laws and aggressive foreign policies, but declared he was “not ashamed to proclaim” his right-wing political beliefs. “I share ideals of fascism, such as the fatherland and the values of the Catholic religion”. Abbiati is married to an Italian woman, Stefania Abbiati. Their daughter, Giulia, was born on 30 January 2000.
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Abbiati received his first call-up for Italy as the third goalkeeper for UEFA Euro 2000, after Gianluigi Buffon withdrew from the squad through injury, and was part of the squad that participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics and of the squad that participated to the Fifa World Cup 2002. However, he did not earn his first cap until a 2–1 victory over Switzerland on 30 April 2003. Abbiati was left off the 2006 FIFA World Cup roster but was recalled to the national team in September 2006. In March 2009, three days before his season-ending knee injury, he said that he would refuse a future call-up for Italy in a non-starting role. In total, he made four appearances for Italy.
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Christian Abbiati was shipped to Juventus as a temporary replacement for incumbent Gianluigi Buffon, who had suffered a dislocated shoulder during the Luigi Berlusconi Trophy match against Milan in August 2005. Milan A.C. then offered to loan its goalkeeper to Juventus F.C. With long-awaited regular playing time at his disposal, he flourished with the Bianconeri, but when Buffon returned to the starting lineup six months later, Abbiati’s services were no longer needed, and he left at the end of the season.