Gianluca Zambrotta is an Italian former professional footballer and current manager of Delhi Dynamos, who played as a full-back or as a winger. Throughout his club career, Zambrotta played for several different Italian clubs. He began his career with local club Como in 1994, and gained prominence while playing for Bari, which earned him a transfer to Juventus in 1999. During his seven seasons with the club, he won two consecutive Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana titles in 2002 and 2003, also reaching the 2003 UEFA Champions League final. He also later spent two relatively unsuccessful seasons with Barcelona between 2006 and 2008, where he won the 2006 Supercopa de España, before returning to Italy to play for Milan, where he won his third Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana titles in 2011. He ended his career after a season with Swiss club Chiasso in 2014, whom he later went on to coach. At international level, Zambrotta won 98 caps for the Italy national team, playing at three FIFA World Cups, three UEFA European Championship, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2000 Summer Olympics. He was part of their side that reached the Euro 2000 final, and he was also selected to the Euro 2004 Team of the Tournament. He was most notably a key member of the starting lineup of the Italian squad that won the 2006 World Cup, and he was selected in the Team of the Tournament for his performances. Zambrotta is regarded by pundits as one of Italy’s greatest attacking full-backs/wing-backs. Although naturally right-footed, he was an ambidextrous player who excelled both at offensive and defensive play, which made him tactically versatile, allowing him to be deployed on the left as well as on the right side of the pitch, as a full-back or wing-back in a 4 or 5-man defence, or even as a winger or wide midfielder, a position in which he was often played earlier on in his career. His main attributes were his pace, marking ability, tackling, strength, tenacity, and stamina. A tenacious and hard-working player, he was also gifted with good technique and ball skills, as well as an excellent crossing ability and a powerful shot from outside the area.
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After the transfer to Juventus on 1 July 1999, Zambrotta continued his upward momentum under manager Carlo Ancelotti. He made 32 league appearances with one goal in the first season he played for Juventus. On 14 May 2000, the last match day of the season, Juventus missed out on the 1999–2000 Scudetto, as they were defeated 1–0 away at Perugia in the heavy rain, while Lazio got the three points at home by beating Reggina 3–0, and overcame Juventus by a single point. Zambrotta was brought on in the second half in that game and was later given a red card by the referee, Pierluigi Collina.
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Zambrotta is regarded by pundits as one of Italy’s greatest attacking full-backs/wing-backs. Although naturally right-footed, he was an ambidextrous player who excelled both at offensive and defensive play, which made him tactically versatile, allowing him to be deployed on the left as well as on the right side of the pitch, as a full-back or wing-back in a 4 or 5-man defence, or even as a winger or wide midfielder, a position in which he was often played earlier on in his career. His main attributes were his pace, marking ability, tackling, strength, tenacity, and stamina. A tenacious and hard-working player, he was also gifted with good technique and ball skills, as well as an excellent crossing ability and a powerful shot from outside the area. In 2002 under new Italy Team manager Giovanni Trapattoni, Zambrotta also represented the Italy senior side at the 2002 World Cup, where Italy were controversially eliminated in the round of 16 by co-hosts South Korea, on a golden goal.
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In his second season for Juventus, 2000–01, Zambrotta made 29 league appearances and scored three goals, but Juventus finished once again in second place in Serie A, behind Roma. Zambrotta won his first Scudetto in the 2001–02 season, while he made 32 league appearances and scored one goal during the season, also reaching the 2002 Coppa Italia final with the club
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In 2003, after the retirement of Paolo Maldini from the national team and a successful switch to left-back with Juventus, Zambrotta became the first choice for this position in the national team. On 30 May 2004, Zambrotta scored his first ever international goal in a warm-up against Tunisia. A Bernardo Corradi header was flapped out for Zambrotta’s fierce volley into the roof of the net in the 89th minute while Italy won the game by 4–0. In Euro 2004, although the performance of Italy was largely disappointing and the team was eliminated at the group stage, Zambrotta was one of the few Italian players to be praised for his performances, and was elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament. In Italy’s final group match against Bulgaria, which inded in a 2–1 victory the Italians, he was involved in both of his team’s goals, setting up Antonio Cassano’s injury time winner, although Italy finished third in their group on direct encounters, following a three-way five point tie with Sweden and Denmark.
Match Worn Shirt
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Zambrotta remained a regular first team player as Juventus won their second consecutive Scudetto and reached the Champions League final, in which they were defeated by Milan in a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw. The following season, Juventus avenged the defeat by beating Milan to the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana on penalties, although they failed to retain their league title or progress in Europe. Zambrotta won four Scudetti with Juventus, making a total of 217 league appearances and scoring seven goals in six seasons.
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This shirt’s style was not used in the Tim Cup Final against Lazio S.S. The team played in Roma for the first round with the purple away shirt and the second leg in Turin with the home version. It is by the way an Italy Cup Final’s prepared shirt since, as we explained before, this the only game where the team played with both Tamoil sponsor and Nike swoosh visible.
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On 31 May 2008, Zambrotta signed a three-year contract with Milan. The club paid €9 million to Barcelona, with a potential €2 million added on depending on Milan’s performance in the Champions League, for his services. Zambrotta would reportedly be earning €4 million per year. His move forced Milan right back Massimo Oddo to be loaned out to Bayern Munich for more chance to play regularly. On 21 September 2008, Zambrotta scored his first goal for Milan, from 31 metres out, in the league game against Lazio. In the 2008–09 season, Zambrotta played more games than any other Milan player. In the 2009–10 season, Zambrotta mainly played at left back, competing with Luca Antonini for a starting spot, while the emerged star Ignazio Abate consolidated the right back position as his own. For the 2010–11 season, Zambrotta was more versatile than before and often used as a utility. New coach Massimiliano Allegri also preferred Abate for the right back position while Zambrotta alternated between starting at left back and covering for Abate at right back. Nevertheless, he made 20 appearances in all competitions playing an important role in Milan’s 18th Scudetto win. Later that year, he won the Serie A title with Milan, as well as the Supercoppa Italiana. Zambrotta renewed his expiring contract for another year, keeping him a Milan player until at least the summer of 2012. Milan decided not to renew the contracts of several of their veteran players and Zambrotta was one of those along with Filippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso. He played his final game for Milan against Novara on 13 May 2012.
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New coach Marcello Lippi, who had just resigned as the Juventus manager where he had managed Zambrotta, moved him to right-back. He became a core player in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, featuring in eight of the ten matches to help Italy qualify as group winners. On 15 May 2006, he was chosen as one of the 23 players to participate in the finals in Germany. During final preparations, Zambrotta injured his left thigh during a training match at the national team’s training base at Coverciano on 28 May 2006. He picked up the injury in a training match against amateur team San Giminiano. This brought certain fears for the Italian squad and Lippi decided to keep Daniele Bonera on stand-by in case Zambrotta could not recover in time. Medical ultrasonography scans on Zambrotta’s thigh in the final days before Italy’s first group match revealed that he would only miss the opening game against Ghana. Zambrotta made his tournament debut in the second group match against the United States as a left-back, the match endeding in a 1–1 draw. In their last group match, against the Czech Republic on 22 June, Italy needed only a draw to qualify from the group. Zambrotta was moved to the right-back position as his team won the match 2–0 and advanced as group winners. During Italy’s closely fought 1–0 over Australia in the round of 16, Zambrotta received a booking in the 91st minute. In the quarter-final on 30 June, Italy defeated Ukraine 3–0, with Zambrotta scoring the opening goal after six minutes with a left-footed long-range shot after a one-two with Francesco Totti. This was his second goal for his country. Zambrotta’s outstanding performance continued as he saved his team by a goal-line clearance in the 58th minute. After Lippi made some substitutions, Zambrotta was pushed up to a left midfield position. He immediately showed the effect of this position switch. In the 69th minute, he dribbled down the left flank into the edge of the penalty area and passed the ball across to Luca Toni to score his second goal of the match. Zambrotta also participated in Italy’s semi-final victory over the host nation, Germany, hitting the cross-bar in extra time, and he also played in Italy’s victorious final victory over France. Throughout the tournament, Zambrotta completed 213 passes. His ability to play in multiple positions on either flank contributed to the tactical flexibility of the Italian squad, and earned him a place in the 23-man 2006 World Cup All-Star squad.