Beware Harry Kane! Giorgio Chiellini is Italy’s ‘Gorilla’ who has broken his nose five times, belts out the national anthem and will do anything to keep rivals quiet … now he stands between England and Euros GLORY!
- Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini has been sensational in their Euros run so far
- He must now stop England’s attack if they are to lift the trophy at Wembley
- Chiellini is a warrior and has been given the nickname ‘gorilla’ in his homeland
- Not afraid to get rough with opponents, Chiellini is an old-school type of player
- He will now try to shut down Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling on Sunday night
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Harry Kane may still be celebrating his semi-final winner against Denmark but the England captain now faces one of the toughest opponents in world football in Sunday’s Euros final – Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
The 36-year-old wily defender, who plays his club football for Juventus, is an old-school player who will do almost anything to protect his goal from opponents.
Chiellini looks like a pantomime villain with his scouring, gruff face. He resembles an ogre in a fairy tale but in reality has a heart of gold and a personality that mean he is the perfect captain for both club and country.
Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini stands between England Euro 2020 glory on Sunday evening
The warrior is currently one of the best defenders in the world and will do anything to win
Described as ‘a devil with a halo’, Chiellini is never afraid to put his body in harm’s way and is happy to use his arms, hands or anything he can to block shots or prevent attackers from scoring.
Throughout Euro 2020, Chiellini’s performances alongside close friend Leonardo Bonucci in the heart of Italy’s defence have been outstanding and provided a platform for their team-mates to win games in the attacking third.
Chiellini was superb in repelling Spain’s waves of attack in this week’s first Wembley semi-final and later riled the opposition by trying to wind up Jordi Alba before the crucial penalty shootout started.
Even against Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku – considered by many to be the best striker in world football at the moment – Chiellini stood firm and forced his opponent’s worst performance of the tournament.
Chiellini’s nickname ‘Gorilla’ perfectly sums up his playing style. He now celebrates his rare goals by thumping his chest and has also given his name to a mobile phone game called Go Go Gorilla.
Chiellini and partner Leonardo Bonucci were outstanding in Tuesday night’s win over Spain
In fact, his defensive ability is held in such high esteem back home in Italy that many believe he is worthy of a place in the pantheon of the nation’s iconic defenders.
There is no doubt he wouldn’t look out of place alongside Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro, Italy’s heroes of their 2006 World Cup win, and some believe he could even match the achievements of icons Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini – two of the all-time greats.
Chiellini, a left-footed defender, can play in both a three-man and four-man back line and this allows the Italians to mix up formations, something which could cause England a problem in Sunday’s final.
Tall and thin, full of scratches and bruises from a long career in the thick of the action, Chiellini has broken his nasal septum an eye-watering five times in 10 years with Juventus.
His face is full of scars and wounds and his rough and rugged look could easily give the impression he’s 50-years-old. But his performances so far this summer have proven there is plenty of life in those legs yet.
He has broken his nose five times in 10 years for Juventus and his commitment is unwavering
Chiellini tore his knee ligaments in 2019 but he battled back and returned as good as ever
As loyal as they come in modern football, Chiellini has always fought for and defended the colours of Juventus and has been a reference point for each of the club’s managers since he was signed by ex-England manager Fabio Capello in 2005.
Kane may have continued his fine goal-scoring form for the Three Lions with the winner against Denmark but he is now preparing to face arguably the best defender in world football at present.
That is if he’s fully fit, though.
Italy boss Roberto Mancini and the approximately 60 million Italian fans who will watch Sunday’s final are holding their breath because there is some doubt over Chiellini’s fitness going into the England clash.
Training sessions between now and the final are expected to be very light for the 36-year-old as they try to nurse him back to full fitness after a draining 120 minutes against Spain on Tuesday night.
Chiellini can be seen always passionately singing the Italian national anthem before kick-off
In 16 years with Juventus, the defender has won nine Serie A titles and five Coppa Italias
Chiellini is now back on the pitch after a season blighted by calf problems. His fitness issues have plagued the last three years of his Juventus career and he has not been able to play a full season without some sort of injury interruption.
Returning Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has already made it clear that Chiellini will be the focal point of his defence for at least another 12 months. His experience is considered fundamental, even if at this moment in time his body is starting to break down.
The passion and fire is still burning hot inside, too. One of the standouts from Italy’s Euro 2020 matches so far has been the passion with which they sing their national anthem before a ball is kicked.
Against Spain, Chiellini was filmed belting out the words with his eyes shut as he tried to drown out the boos and jeers from opposition fans. After it had finished, Chiellini could be heard shouting to his team-mates: ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’.
In 2014 the defender he married Carolina Bonistalli after four years of engagement
Born in the Tuscan city of Pisa, Chiellini has a sister and two brothers, one of whom acted as his agent for many years and is now the sporting director of their home town’s Serie B side.
Chiellini is one of the very few footballers in Italian football with a degree after he studied economics and commerce at the University of Pisa.
Before falling asleep at night Chiellini always finds time to read. That is when he’s not binging on episodes of Homeland, Prison Break or 24.
He is passionate about economic and financial reading and speaks fluent English as he demonstrated while talking to the referee before the penalty shootout with Spain.
His immediate future lies in football but his studies leave numerous possibilities in finance when he retires.
Chiellini graduated with a degree in economics and commerce in 2010 with a remarkable score of 109/110 and a thesis on the finances of a sports club. He also completed a Masters in business administration, using Juventus to aid his studies.
Chiellini and Carolina were married in Livorno and have two daughters, Nina and Olivia
Chiellini and his family now live in Turin, close to the home of his friend and teammate Bonucci
Chiellini’s father is called Fabio and he is an orthopedist who worked in Pisa. In 2014 the defender he married Carolina Bonistalli after four years of engagement. He is a very private man and rarely posts pictures of his family on social media.
Chiellini and Carolina were married in the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie in Livorno in 2014. They have two daughters, Nina, the eldest, and Olivia.
An avid video game player, Chiellini loves his PlayStation and Football Manager. He says the simulator’s enormous database of players helps him keep tabs on team-mates and future opponents.
Chiellini and his family now live in Turin, where Juventus are based. Their house is situated in a beautiful central area of the city, very close to the home of his friend and teammate Bonucci.
It is a typically Italian style property with high ceilings, cream curtains, green carpets and emerald-coloured creaking that rest on the parquet. Every single aspect of the property seems to have been studied with great finesse, making the environment extremely pleasant to live in.
Chiellini (pictured centre in 2003) was born in Pisa but started his career with rivals Livorno
After a year on loan with Fiorentina, Fabio Capello took Chiellini to Juventus with him in 2005
Chiellini wanted to play basketball when he was a child. He was a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant but ultimately he prioritised football and set himself on the track to becoming one of Italy’s finest players.
Despite being born in Pisa, Chiellini started his football career with their rivals in the rival city of Livorno. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his debut at the age of 16. His ability quickly became clear and he was bought by Capello’s Roma in 2002.
When Capello left Roma for Juventus, he made sure to take Chiellini with him in 2005 after impressing on loan with Fiorentina the season before.
In 16 years with Juventus he has won nine Serie A titles, five Coppa Italias and the Italian Super Cup five times as he played a major role in their dominance of Italian football.
But, for all of his success at club level, Chiellini has never managed to get over the line with the Italian national team and this could be his last chance with next year’s World Cup in Qatar not until December.
Chiellini played in the Euro 2020 final when the Italians were swept aside 4-0 by Spain in Kiev
Now Chiellini is in the final again and will do almost anything against England to lift the trophy
During an interview on Italian TV on Tuesday night, Italy legend Christian Vieri said Chiellini ‘is the strongest defender in the world’ and ‘if he doesn’t get a cramp in his calf every day, he tears you to pieces’.
He added: ‘Chiello kills you, splits you in two, the old defender of the past.’
Chiellini played in the final of Euro 2012 when the Italians were swept aside 4-0 by a brilliant Spain performance in Kiev.
He banished those painful memories with the penalty shootout victory at Wembley on Tuesday night and is now desperate to go one step further, breaking the hearts of Three Lions fans in the process.
Gareth Southgate’s attack will have it all to do if they are to find a way through Italy’s ‘Gorilla’ on Sunday and lift the trophy. Chiellini will do almost anything he can to get the job done.
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