Sebastian Giovinco is an Italian professional footballer who plays for Canadian club Toronto FC, and the Italian national team as a forward. A 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. Due to his short stature, dynamic abilities and pace, Giovinco acquired the nickname formica atomica (“atomic ant”, after the eponymous Hanna-Barbera character) in his youth. In 2015, he was named one of the 100 best footballers in the world by The Guardian, FourFourTwo, and L’Équipe. Giovinco began his professional footballing career with Italian club Juventus in Serie B in 2006, where he was promoted to the first team after his success with the club’s youth squad; in his first season, he helped the senior side win the title and earn promotion to Serie A, establishing himself as a promising prospect in the number 10 role. After struggling to break into the starting line-up however, he spent successful stints on loan with Italian clubs Empoli and Parma, where he matured as a player, before earning a move back to Juventus in 2012. Upon his return to the Turin club, he won two consecutive league titles, but once again struggled to maintain a spot in the team’s starting eleven, resulting in a high-profile move to MLS side Toronto FC in January 2015, in a deal which made him the league’s highest paid player. After joining the Canadian club, he soon established himself as one of the best players in the MLS: he broke the league’s record for most combined goals and assists in a single 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 his first title with Toronto, the 2016 Canadian Championship, and became the club’s all-time top goalscorer, helping the club to qualify for the Playoffs once again, reaching the MLS Cup Final. At international level, Giovinco has represented Italy at all levels since first being called up by the under-16 side in 2003; at youth level, he took part at the 2008 Summer Olympics with the Italian under-23 side, and later helped the Italy under-21 side to the semi-finals of the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. He made his debut with the Italy senior side in 2011, and he later took part at UEFA Euro 2012; winning a runners-up medal, and at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup; winning a bronze medal, and also scoring his first international goal during the tournament.
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This shirt comes from the game when Juventus made its Serie B debut on 9 September 2006, earning their first ever point in Serie B with a 1-1 draw away to Rimini. Giovinco was promoted to the first team during the 2006–07 season and also played his last season in the Primavera squad. His professional debut came on 12 May 2007, in the Serie B match against Bologna; he came on as a substitute in place of Raffaele Palladino, and marked his first appearance with an assist for David Trezeguet’s tap-in. Since then, he had been tipped to be Alessandro Del Piero’s heir in the creative number 10 role behind the main striker, known as the trequartista, rifinitore, or fantasista, in Italian. Juventus won the Serie B title that season, earning promotion to Serie A the following season.
Rimini vs Juventus
Match Worn Shirt
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After joining the Juventus youth system, Giovinco flourished through the ranks of the club and impressed especially during the 2005–06 season, winning the Campionato Primavera, as well as the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Primavera, and also reaching the final at the Viareggio Tournament, where he was named best player of the competition. Giovinco was promoted to the first team during the 2006–07 season and also played his last season in the Primavera squad.
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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 helped in their 4–0 defeat of Albania. 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, and netting the winning penalty in the semi-final match against Japan. 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. On 7 August 2008, he scored the opening 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. 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. Giovinco started in every single match at the tournament, but Italy lost to eventual winners Germany 1–0 in a tightly contested semi-final.
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Giovinco was born in Turin to a Sicilian father, Giovanni, originally from Bisacquino in the province of Palermo, and a Calabrian mother, Elvira, originally from Catanzaro, who moved from Southern Italy. He grew up in Beinasco, a comune southwest of the city, in a family of Milan fans, and joined the Juventus youth system in 1996, when he was nine. His younger brother Giuseppe was also part of the Juventus Youth Academy and currently plays in Lega Pro. On 4 July 2007, Giovinco was loaned out to Empoli. He made his Serie A debut on 26 August, coming on as a substitute against Fiorentina. Giovinco scored his first Serie A goal on 30 September against Palermo in a 3–1 win. He made his European debut in the UEFA Cup on 4 October against Zürich. Giovinco finished his first season in Serie A with 6 goals in 35 appearances, and was given the Leone d’Argento award, by the club. Despite Giovinco’s promising performances, Empoli were unable to avoid relegation, and he returned to Juventus at the end of the season.
Match Worn Shirt
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On 26 June 2008, Giovinco officially returned to Juventus. Giovinco played his first Serie A match for Juventus on 24 September, against Catania, before assisting both goals for Vincenzo Iaquinta in the 2–2 draw with BATE Borisov in the Champions League on 30 September, his first start for the club. On 7 December, he scored his first goal for Juventus, a free kick against Lecce in a 2–1 win. In October 2008, he signed a contract extension, tying him to Juventus until the summer of 2013.
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Giovinco is a small, quick, technically gifted, and agile player, with noted dribbling skills, balance, acceleration, and excellent ball control; these characteristics allow him to beat opponents, hold up the ball with his back to goal or in tight spaces, and create space or chances for teammates, despite his lack of strong physical attributes. 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, as well as his accuracy and ball delivery from free kicks. Giovinco is capable of playing in several offensive positions, and he is usually deployed in a free role as a second striker, although he is also capable of playing as a winger, on either flank, or in the centre as a creative attacking midfielder; he has also been used in a more offensive, central role as a main striker.
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On 19 January 2015, Giovinco signed with Canadian team Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). 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, and the highest paid Italian player in all leagues until the arrival of Andrea Pirlo to New York City FC later that year. 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. Giovinco made his debut for Toronto FC against Vancouver Whitecaps on 7 March. In 2016 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. 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. In 2017 another record was smashed. On 30 July, Giovinco scored two goals and set up another in a 4–0 home win over New York City FC; his second goal of the match, which came from a free kick, was his 50th MLS goal, and his record-breaking 10th MLS goal from a free kick. On 30 November 2018, Giovinco was named to the MLS Best XI for the third season in a row. On 9 December, in a rematch of the previous year’s final at BMO field, Toronto defeated Seattle 2–0 in the 2017 MLS Cup, and became the first MLS team to complete a domestic treble with their victory, as well as the first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup; Giovinco was involved in both goals, and gave the final pass to goalscorer Altidore for the opener.