Leonardo Bonucci is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for the Italy national team. He is currently vice-captain for both Juventus and Italy national team behind Giorgio Chiellini. After beginning his career with Internazionale in 2005, Bonucci spent the next few seasons on loan at Treviso and Pisa, before moving to Bari in 2009. His technique, ball-playing ability and defensive performances alongside fellow Italian centre-back Andrea Ranocchia earned him a move to Juventus the following season, where he later became a key member of the club’s three-man defensive line, alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, establishing himself as one of the best defenders in world football. He went on to win six consecutive Serie A titles with the team between 2012 and 2017. In 2017, he moved to Milan, and one season later returned to Juventus. At international level, Bonucci has represented Italy at two FIFA World Cups (2010 and 2014), two European Championships (2012 and 2016), and a FIFA Confederations Cup (2013), winning a runners-up medal at Euro 2012, and a third-place medal at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Bonucci has also won several individual honours for his performances: he was named to the UEFA Europa League Squad of the season during the 2013–14 and 2017–18 seasons, and is a three-time member of the Serie A Team of the Year. He was named the Serie A Footballer of the Year in 2016, and was also included in the UEFA Team of the Year in the same season. In 2017, he was also included in the FIFA FIFPro World XI and the IFFHS Men’s World Team, as well as the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League Team of the Season and the 2016–17 ESM Team of the Year.
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Leonardo Bonucci is a former midfielder who is usually deployed as ball-playing centre-back in a three-man defence (although he is also capable of playing in a four-man defence, both in the centre or out wide), Bonucci is primarily known for his technique, passing range, and his ability to launch an attack from the back with long passes. Although he is not the quickest player over short distances, he is a tall, mobile, and strong defender, with a good positional sense, as well as good anticipation, solid tackling, and an ability to read the game and mark opponents, on top of his ball skills; he also excels in the air, and frequently poses a goal threat from set pieces. Although he was considered to be a talented and promising young defender, he was also criticised by certain pundits for being inconsistent and prone to errors or lapses in concentration in his youth, which were dubbed “Bonucciate” in the Italian media; however, he showed notable improvements during the 2014–15 season, and established himself as one of the best defenders in world football, also drawing praise from manager Pep Guardiola, who described Bonucci as one of his “favourite ever players”. His unique playing style has led Giovanni Galli to compare him to former sweeper Gaetano Scirea. In 2012, The Guardian named him the 88th Best Player in the World. In 2016, his defensive attributes, as well as his skill on the ball, vision, and accurate passing, moved La Repubblica to dub him as “Beckenbonucci”, a reference to former German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer. In addition to his defensive, playmaking and technical skills, Bonucci has also been praised for his leadership.
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On 14 July 2017, Bonucci left Juventus and was signed by A.C. Milan on a five-year contract for a €42 million fee. On 4 August 2017, Bonucci was named one of the three finalists for the Defender of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League season award. Milan’s manager Vincenzo Montella subsequently named Bonucci as the team’s new captain later that month. On 23 October, he was named to the 2017 FIFA FIFPro World11. Although much was expected of Bonucci and Milan, the first half of the 2017–18 season was disappointing both for him and the club, and he drew criticism in the media over the quality of his performances. He scored his first goal for Milan on 6 January 2018, in a 1–0 home win over Crotone. On 31 March, Bonucci scored the equalising goal against his former team away to Juventus, breaking goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s record of longest consecutive minutes not conceded in an eventual 3–1 defeat. On 2 August 2018, Bonucci returned to Juventus as part of a swap deal with A.C. Milan involving Mattia Caldara; both Bonucci and Caldara were tagged for €35 million transfer fee. He signed a five-year contract until 30 June 2023.
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At youth level, Bonucci played for the Italy national under-21 football B team. He was called-up for a friendlies against Renate on 6 November 2007, and against the Under-20 Serie C representative team on 4 December 2007. He was also capped for the team in an internal friendly, which split the Under-21 Serie B team into two on 9 October 2007, on 21 October 2008, on 25 November, and on 24 March 2009, as team captain. He also received a call-up from the Italy U20 team on 31 May 2007. He was an unused substitute in the 0–1 loss to the Serie D Best XI. Bonucci made his debut with the Italy senior team on 3 March 2010, under manager Marcello Lippi, in a friendly match against Cameroon played in Monaco, which ended in a 0–0 draw, and became one of the few debutants to have never played an official match for the national youth teams. He was included by manager Marcello Lippi in the starting line-up along with national team regulars Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini, forming a three-man defensive line in Lippi’s 3–4–3 formation. At youth level, Bonucci played for the Italy national under-21 football B team. He was called-up for a friendlies against Renate on 6 November 2007, and against the Under-20 Serie C representative team on 4 December 2007. He was also capped for the team in an internal friendly, which split the Under-21 Serie B team into two on 9 October 2007, on 21 October 2008, on 25 November, and on 24 March 2009, as team captain. He also received a call-up from the Italy U20 team on 31 May 2007. He was an unused substitute in the 0–1 loss to the Serie D Best XI. Bonucci made his debut with the Italy senior team on 3 March 2010, under manager Marcello Lippi, in a friendly match against Cameroon played in Monaco, which ended in a 0–0 draw, and became one of the few debutants to have never played an official match for the national youth teams. He was included by manager Marcello Lippi in the starting line-up along with national team regulars Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini, forming a three-man defensive line in Lippi’s 3–4–3 formation. On 4 September 2014, under new Italy manager Antonio Conte, Bonucci wore the captain’s armband for Italy for the first time, following Daniele De Rossi’s substitution in a 2–0 friendly win over the Netherlands. On 31 May 2016, Bonucci was named to Conte’s 23-man Italy squad for UEFA Euro 2016. On 13 June he set up Emanuele Giaccherini’s goal, Italy’s first of the match, with a long ball in a 2–0 win over Belgium in the opening group match of Euro 2016; he was later booked for a tactical foul. After helping Italy to another clean-sheet in a 1–0 victory in the second group match against Sweden on 17 June, Bonucci was once again praised for his defensive performances alongside Chiellini and Barzagli. On 22 June, he captained Italy in Buffon’s absence in his nation’s final group match, a 1–0 defeat to Ireland. On 27 June he produced a Man of the Match performance in the round of 16 of the tournament as he helped Italy to keep a third clean sheet and defeat defending champions Spain 2–0. In the quarter-final fixture against Germany on 2 July, he scored Italy’s equalising goal from a penalty, although his spot-kick was saved by Manuel Neuer in the resulting shoot-out, as the reigning World Cup champions advanced to the semi-finals following a 6–5 shoot-out victory. On 12 October 2019, Bonucci made his 92nd international appearance in a 2–0 home win over Greece, and overtook Alessandro Del Piero as the tenth-most capped player in the history of the Italian national team; the victory sealed Italy’s qualification for Euro 2020. Bonucci is usual to celebrate his goals turning his finger around his mouth meaning “Wash your mouth before talking about me”. In June 2011 Bonucci married his long-time girlfriend Martina Maccari, a former model. They have two sons, Lorenzo (b. July 2012) and Matteo (b. May 2014), and one daughter, Matilda (b. February 2019). Although Bonucci played for Juventus for several seasons, his eldest son, Lorenzo, supports Juventus’s cross-city rivals, Torino. In July 2016, Bonucci’s youngest son, Matteo underwent emergency surgery following the onset of an acute illness. In a 2017 interview with El País, Bonucci revealed that his son’s illness had even led him to think about quitting football.