“He has great talent and I think he can do more than I did with Milan’s colours, because he is very young … Gigio has already demonstrated his value, and I think he’s going to develop even more” Dida
Things to Know:
Donnarumma was the starting goalkeeper for Italy’s under-17 team at the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The following year on 24 March, he made his debut for the under-21 side in a 4–1 win over the Republic of Ireland, becoming the youngest player ever to play for the team aged 17 years and 28 days, breaking the record previously held by Federico Bonazzoli. Though predicted to attend the 2016 UEFA European Championship, Donnarumma did not make Antonio Conte’s final squad for the tournament. On 27 August, he was called up to the senior squad by Gian Piero Ventura for a friendly against France on 1 September and a 2018 World Cup qualification match on 5 September against Israel, making him the youngest player, aged 17 years and six months, to be called up to the senior squad since 1911. On 1 September, in the match against France, Donnarumma made his senior debut, subbing out Buffon at the half-time mark of an eventual 3–1 home loss; the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for Italy aged 17 years and 189 days. On 28 March 2017, he made his first starting appearance in a 2–1 away win over the Netherlands; the youngest goalkeeper for Italy to do so aged 18 years and 31 days. In June 2017, he was included in the Italy under-21 squad for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship by manager Luigi Di Biagio.
Did you Know?
Donnarumma grew up in the football academy of Club Napoli in his native Castellammare di Stabia. At age 14, he was signed for €250,000 by Milan, the team for which his elder brother, Antonio, had already played. Between 2013 and 2015, he was part of the Rossoneri youth academy, where he always played in the age group above him, beginning with the Giovanissimi, then the Allievi, and finally the Primavera. Three days before his 16th birthday, in February 2015, he received his first call-up to the senior team from manager Filippo Inzaghi; though he did not feature in the league match against Cesena, his presence on the substitutes’ bench had required a special dispensation due to his age. At the beginning of the 2015–16 season, Donnarumma was promoted to the senior team by manager Siniša Mihajlović, initially as the third-choice goalkeeper behind Diego López and Christian Abbiati. During Milan’s pre-season tour of China, he made his debut in an International Champions Cup match against Real Madrid on 30 July. Replacing López in the 72nd minute, he kept a clean sheet for the remainder of the match, but was one of two Milan players to miss his penalty shootout attempt in an eventual 10–9 loss. His subsequent starting appearance against Sassuolo in the final of the TIM Trophy saw him save two penalties in the shootout to secure Milan’s victory. Donnarumma made his competitive debut in Serie A on 25 October against Sassuolo at the San Siro stadium; chosen to start ahead of López, he helped the team achieve a 2–1 victory after three matches without a win. At the age of 16 years and 242 days, he was the second youngest goalkeeper to start a match in the history of Italian football; 13 days older than Giuseppe Sacchi, who coincidentally made his Serie A debut with Milan on the very same date, 73 years earlier. López subsequently hailed him as “the future of Milan and of Italian football”. Donnarumma kept his first clean sheet three days later in a 1–0 win against Chievo. After three successive victories featuring Donnarumma in the starting line-up, Milan avoided a defeat against Atalanta as a result of an impressive display from their goalkeeper; “Donnarumma worked miracles,” commented the Gazzetta dello Sport. His performances that year earned him a place among the top 25 of Don Balón‘s ranking of the world’s best footballers under age 21. On 15 June 2017 it was initially announced that Donnarumma would not be renewing his contract with Milan, however on 11 July, after much speculation, he renewed with Milan until 2021.