Vincenzo Montella is an Italian former footballer. Montella’s nickname during his playing career was “L’Aeroplanino” (“The Little Airplane”), in reference to his small stature and trademark goal celebration, in which he spread his arms like wings. A prolific goalscorer, throughout his playing career Montella played as a forward for Italian clubs Empoli, Genoa, Sampdoria and Roma, and also had a spell on loan in England with Fulham. He is mostly remembered for his performances with Roma (1999–2007), where he won the Serie A title and the Supercoppa Italiana during the 2000–01 season, also later reaching the 2003 Coppa Italia final with the club. In 2013, Montella was inducted into the A.S. Roma Hall of Fame. At international level, he made 20 appearances for Italy between 1999 and 2005, scoring three goals; he was notably a member of the Italian team that reached the final of UEFA Euro 2000, and he also represented his country at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Montella began his managerial career as Roma’s caretaker manager in 2011, later coaching Catania the following season. In 2012, he moved to Fiorentina, where he spent three seasons, leading the club to three consecutive fourth-place league finishes, the 2014 Coppa Italia final and the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2015. After a season-long spell with Sampdoria, he was appointed Milan’s manager in 2016, and later that year, he won his first title as a coach with the club, the Supercoppa Italiana.
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Vincenzo Montella moved up to Serie A from Genoa team to city rivals Sampdoria in 1996, where he remained three years, until 1999, when he moved to Roma in a 50 billion lire (about €25.823 million) transfer.
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Montella received his first international cap for Italy under Dino Zoff in a UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying match against Wales on 5 June 1999, which Italy won 4–0, and he was part of the final 22-man Italian squad that took part at Euro 2000, where they reached the final. Although Montella did not score during the competition, he recorded an assist in Italy’s final group match against Sweden, setting up Alessandro Del Piero’s match-winning goal, which allowed Italy to top their group. He would also make one more appearance during the tournament, in the final defeat against France in extra-time. He scored his first goal for Italy in an international friendly match against South Africa in Perugia on 25 April 2001, a 1–0 home win for Italy. In March 2002, he scored a notable double against England in an international friendly match in Leeds, giving Italy a 2–1 away victory after they had been trailing 1–0. After appearing for Italy under Giovanni Trapattoni during their 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Montella was chosen as a member of the Italy team that would be competing at the 2002 World Cup, where the Italians were eliminated controversially in the round of 16 to co-hosts South Korea. In his only World Cup appearance, during Italy’s final group stage match against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup, he had a goal wrongly disallowed. He later set up Del Piero’s equaliser, which helped Italy to progress to the second round. He was set to come in the round of 16 match, but South Korea scored the golden goal moments before he was set to come on. He also appeared for Italy in three Euro 2004 qualifying matches, and he made his final appearance for Italy in an international friendly match against Russia on the 9 February 2005, which Italy won 2–0. In total, Montella won 20 caps and scored 3 goals for Italy.
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Vincenzo Montella became a Roma’s idol to the supporters, as he had a knack for performing well in the Rome derby against Lazio, scoring a brace in his first derby in 1999 and four goals in a 5–1 win on 10 March 2002; this four-goal haul is still the record of goals scored in a derby match by a single player.
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Nicknamed “L’Aeroplanino” (“The Little Airplane”), due to his small stature and trademark goal celebration, in which he spread his arms like wings, Montella was known as a quick, hard-working, intelligent, and opportunistic left-footed striker, who was gifted with pace, good technique and a keen eye for goal; he has also been described as a “fine all round player, with excellent passing and dribbling skills.” Although he was primarily played as a centre-forward, a position in which he earned a reputation as a prolific “goal-poacher”, his wide range of skills made him a versatile forward, who also capable of playing in a more creative role as a second striker. However, despite his ability and goalscoring record as a footballer, at times he was criticised by his Roma manager Fabio Capello for being a “selfish” player.