, Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI
, (born February 19
) is an Italian footballer
. His speed allows him to play either as a full-back defender
, or as a winger
for both club and country.
Zambrotta started his career with his hometown team Como Calcio
at the age of 17 in 1994. In his first season with Como in Serie B
he played only one game. In 1995, Como were relegated to the Serie C1
and Zambrotta started to play more regularly for the first team. In the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons, he made 47 appearances and scored 6 goals for Como.
In 1997, Zambrotta's Serie A career began when his great potential was spotted by the A.S. Bari
boss Eugenio Fascetti. Zambrotta was snapped up by Fascetti after Bari had won promotion to the Serie A. In his first year in the top flight, Zambrotta played on the left wing and scored two goals in 27 appearances. In the 1998-99 season, following the departure of Nicola Ventola
, Zambrotta exploded on to the scene. In week 1, he scored the only goal of the game against Venezia
after just 9 minutes into the first half. Zambrotta continued to shine and was the key figure for Bari's surprise start to the campaign. In week 7, he scored the opening goal at San Siro
and helped Bari to win the game 3-2 against Inter
. In February 1999, the Italian Under-21 International was rewarded by the coach of Italy
, Dino Zoff
, for his impressive displays. He earned his first cap
in a friendly against Norway
. He became the first player of Bari to play for the national side in 50 years. Throughout the 1998-99 season, he made 32 appearances and scored four goals. Halfway through this season, he was brought to the most successful club in Italy, Juventus, by Carlo Ancelotti
for €15.85M and would play in the black-and-white jersey starting the season after.
After the transfer to Juventus
, Zambrotta continued his upward momentum. 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 Scudetto
as they were defeated 1-0 away at Perugia
in the heavy rain while Lazio
got the 3 points at home by beating Reggina
3-0 and overcame Juventus with 1 point. Zambrotta was brought on in the second half in that game and was later given a red card
by the referee Pierluigi Collina
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. Zambrotta won his first Scudetto in the season 2001-02, while he made 32 league appearances and scored one goal during the season.
After Zambrotta suffered an injury in the game against South Korea during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he missed the beginning of the season 2002-03. During his absence, the new signing of Juventus Mauro Camoranesi took his place on the right wing and was in superb form. This prompted the coach Marcello Lippi to switch Zambrotta to the left-back when he returned to action. Zambrotta adapted to his new position very quickly and performed particularly well. He remained a regular first team player as Juventus won the second consecutive scudetto and reached the UEFA Champions League final, in which they were defeated by Milan in the penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw.
Zambrotta has won two scudettos with Juventus (it was originally four, but the scudettos for 2004-05 and 2005-06 were stripped from the club due to the match-fixing scandal), making a total of 185 league appearances and scoring seven goals in six seasons. In 2005-06, following the injury of Zebina, arrival of Chiellini and his successful switch with the national team, Zambrotta was again switched to the right-back. Since then, Zambrotta switched between right and left-back frequently throughout the season. In 2005, Zambrotta extended his contract to 2010 but, following Juventus' relegation to Serie B due to the 2006 Serie A scandal, he decided to leave the club in summer 2006 with AC Milan, Chelsea, Real Madrid or Barcelona widely tipped to sign him. He was eventually transferred to Barcelona for €14 million. He signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, where he joined fellow Juventus defender Lilian Thuram.
On 4 August 2006
, after his holiday following the World Cup, Zambrotta reported to his new club for the first time in Los Angeles
, United States
where Barcelona stayed for their pre-season tour in U.S.
. He trained with his new teammates and made his debut in the final match of the tour, on 13 August
against the New York Red Bulls
. Zambrotta's official debut in Barça shirt was on 17 August
against local rivals Espanyol
in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup
On March 17 2007
he scored his first goal for Barcelona in the league game against Recreativo Huelva
. He also netted goals in matches against Atletico Madrid
at Vicente Calderón Stadium
record home loss — 0-6) and Gimnastic Tarragona
. By his own admission, his performance at Barcelona had been below-par.
On May 31
, Zambrotta signed a 3-year contract with AC Milan
. AC Milan paid €9 million to Barcelona
, with a potential €2million added on depending on Milan's performance in the Champions League, for his services.. Zambrotta will reportedly be earning €4 million per year.. On September 21
he scored his first goal for Milan, from 31 metres in the league game against Lazio
Italy national team
Soon after Zambrotta was brought to the Serie A
, he got the attention of the national side
. He was selected to play for the Italy Under-21 national team
for the first time on March 25 1998
. In his second game for the U21 against Wales
on April 22
1998, he scored the 2nd goal of Italy on the 43rd minute and helped Italy to win the game 2-1. In 1998, he played in all six games of the Italy U21 while they won 5 of them and drew the last one against Spain.
It was on tour with the under 21's that Luca earned the nickname 'the Mermaid' for his allegedly spending one hour every night in front of the mirror grooming at his now trademark goatee.
After some impressive displays for the U21 and the amazing start of the season 1998-99
, Zambrotta earned his first cap on February 10 1999
, 9 days before his 22nd birthday. Despite a 0-0 draw in this friendly against Norway
, Zambrotta played well throughout the game.
After the disappointing Euro 2000
, Zambrotta was back with the U21 side for the Olympic Games in September. He started in games against Australia
that Italy won 1-0 and 3-1 respectively. Since Italy had already qualified for the quarter finals, the coach put Zambrotta on the bench for the last game against Nigeria
and substituted him on at the 80th minute. This would be the last time he played for the U21 national team, with a total of 13 U21-caps. Italy was defeated by Spain, who would go on to win the silver medal, by one goal in the quarter final in a game Zambrotta sat out.
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 the game 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.
After two consecutive disappointing major tournaments, Trapattoni resigned as the coach of the Azzurri. The new coach for Italy was Marcello Lippi
, who had just resigned as the Juventus coach to take over the Azzurri
. At the end of 2005, as Lippi brought on many new faces for the squad, he once again switched Zambrotta's position - to the right-back this time.
In the Lippi era, Zambrotta remains one of the core players in the team. He featured in eight of the ten FIFA World Cup European qualification matches to help Italy qualify as the group winner. On 15 May 2006, Zambrotta was chosen as one of the 23 players to participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup and he played well.
During the Azzurri's final preparations for the World Cup, 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 an 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.
Scans on Zambrotta's thigh in the final days before Italy's first group match revealed that he would only miss the opening match.
Italy began its World Cup journey against Ghana
on 12 June 2006
. With the absence of Zambrotta, Italy won their opening game by 2-0. Zambrotta made his comeback in the second group match against USA
on 17 June 2006
playing at the left-back position. This was his fifth appearance in the FIFA World Cup, in which his teammates Cristian Zaccardo
scored an own goal and Daniele De Rossi
got sent off for an elbowing offence. Italy's performance was disappointing as they just managed to draw 1-1 with the USA in spite of playing the entire second half with a one-man-advantage. Zambrotta played the whole match without ever excelling.
In their last group match against Czech Republic on 22 June 2006, Italy needed only a draw to qualify from the group. After Zaccardo's poor performance in the previous match, Lippi decided to use Fabio Grosso instead; therefore Zambrotta was put on the right-back. With a one-man-advantage again and two goals from the substitutes Marco Materazzi and Filippo Inzaghi, Italy won 2-0 and qualified as group winners.
In the round of 16, Italy was facing the Group F runners up Australia
on 26 June 2006
. After playing two matches with a one-man-advantage, Italy were playing with 10 men this time in the second half as Materazzi was sent off at the 50th minute. They went on to win the game 1-0 courtesy of a 95th-minute penalty kick converted by Francesco Totti
. Zambrotta again played the entire match on the right back position. He got a yellow card at the 46th minute for bringing the ball away after committing a foul, which meant any booking in the remaining games would bring him a suspension.
In the quarter-final on 30 June 2006, Italy was drawn against Ukraine. Zambrotta started the game at the right-back. He scored the opening goal after only 6 minutes with a left-footed long-range shot after a beautiful one-two with Francesco Totti. This was his second goal for his country and the first one in a FIFA World Cup match. Zambrotta's outstanding performance continued as he saved his team by a goal-line clearance at 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. At 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 in the match. Italy won the game 3-0. In the semi-final on 4 July 2006, Italy was facing the hosts Germany at Dortmund. Zambrotta started the match at right-back again. Neither of the teams were able to score in 90 minutes and the game went into extra time. In the 2nd minute of the extra time, right after teammate Gilardino hit the post in his attempt, Zambrotta had a strong shot on goal from outside the box. Although beating the German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, it struck the crossbar. When the game looked going into a penalty shoot-out, Italy scored 2 very late goals at the 119th and 121st minutes and won the game 2-0.
On 9 July 2006
, Zambrotta played his first major tournament final with the national team after he missed the Euro 2000 final. Coincidently, France
was Italy's opponents on both occasions. Italy conceded a penalty kick in the 7th minute, but it took just 12 minutes for Italy to equalize. The scoreline remained the same for the rest of the match and it went into a penalty shoot-out. Zambrotta was not called upon to take a penalty as five of his Italian teammates made their attempts, while one of the players from France failed to convert their spot kicks, resulting in Italy winning the shoot-out 5-3. This was the first World Cup victory for Zambrotta and the fourth for his country.
Zambrotta's ability to play in multiple positions on either flank contributes great flexibility to the Italian squad, and earned him a place in the 23 man 2006 World Cup All-Star squad.
- * Winner (2): 2002, 2003
- * Runner-up (2): 2000, 2001
- * Runner-up: 2002, 2004
- * Winner: 2002, 2003
- * Runner-up: 2005
- * Runner-up: 2003
|| Domestic League
|| Italian Cup
|| European Cups
|Como Calcio (1994-97) (50 appearances, 6 goals)|
1994-95 Serie B, 1995-97 Serie C1
|A.S. Bari (1997-99) (65 appearances, 8 goals)
|Juventus (1999-2006) (296 appearances, 10 goals)
|| 2 |
|| 0 |
|| 0 |
|| 0 |
|| 0 |
|| 0 |
|| 0 |
|Barcelona (2006- ) (78 appearances, 3 goals)
|| 0 |
|| 0 |