Leonardo Bonucci (Italian pronunciation: [leoˈnardo boˈnuttʃi]; born 1 May 1987) is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for and serves as vice captain of both Serie A club Juventus and the Italy national team.
Bonucci with Italy in 2015
|Full name||Leonardo Bonucci|
|Date of birth||1 May 1987|
|Place of birth||Viterbo, Italy|
|Height||1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)|
|2005–2006||→ Inter Milan (loan)||1||(0)|
|2007–2009||→ Treviso (loan)||40||(4)|
|2009||→ Pisa (loan)||18||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:33, 23 May 2021 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 28 March 2021
After beginning his career with Inter Milan in 2005, Bonucci spent the next few seasons on loan at Treviso and Pisa, before moving to Bari in 2009. His technique, ball-playing ability and defensive performances alongside fellow Italian centre-back Andrea Ranocchia earned him a move to Juventus the following season, where he later became a key member of the club's three-man defensive line, alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, establishing himself as one of the best defenders in world football. He went on to win six consecutive Serie A titles with the team between 2012 and 2017. In 2017, he moved to A.C. Milan, and one season later returned to Juventus, winning two more consecutive league titles with the club.
At international level, Bonucci has made 100 caps since his senior debut in 2010; he has represented Italy at two FIFA World Cups (2010 and 2014), two European Championships (2012 and 2016), and a FIFA Confederations Cup (2013), winning a runners-up medal at Euro 2012, and a third-place medal at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Bonucci has also won several individual honours for his performances: he was named to the UEFA Europa League Squad of the season during the 2013–14 and 2017–18 seasons, and is a four-time member of the Serie A Team of the Year. He was named the Serie A Footballer of the Year in 2016, and was also included in the UEFA Team of the Year in the same season. In 2017, he was also included in the FIFA FIFPro World11 and the IFFHS Men's World Team, as well as the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League Team of the Season and the 2016–17 ESM Team of the Year.
Bonucci started his career in the youth ranks of his hometown club Viterbese but was loaned to Inter Milan in the summer of 2005. He played a number of pre-season friendlies for the Inter first team. He then became a member of the Inter U20 team.
On 14 May 2006, Bonucci made his Serie A debut in the last match of the 2005–06 season, in a 2–2 away draw against Cagliari, which was Inter's 3,500th competitive match. On 7 July 2006, Inter bought Bonucci outright.
He played his first Coppa Italia match against Messina on 9 November 2006 when he came off the bench for Fabio Grosso in the 86th minute. Bonucci featured in two more Coppa Italia games for Inter that season when he was brought on for the substituted Walter Samuel at half-time during the quarter final second leg match against Empoli, and as a starter in the semi final second leg tie against Sampdoria.
In January 2007, Inter sold 50% of Bonucci's registration rights to Treviso, along with 50% of the registration rights for fellow Primavera team-mate Daniel Maa Boumsong. At that time Bonucci was tagged for a peppercorn fee of €500. Bonucci subsequently remained at Inter until 30 June 2007 while Maa Boumsong returned from Treviso where he spent the first half of the season on loan. During Bonucci's last season with the Inter's youth side, he won the Campionato Nazionale Primavera (the national youth league title).
Treviso and Pisa
On 1 July 2007, Bonucci and Maa Boumsong formally became players of Treviso after their loan contract back to Inter had expired, as well as the renewal of the co-ownerships in June 2007. At Treviso, Bonucci made 20 starts in 27 Serie B appearances as one of the regular starters.
In June 2008, among the other Inter youth products, Bonucci was the only player that was bought back from Treviso. However, he was loaned back to Treviso for the 2008–09 season. According to a Treviso filing named Tabella N°5 – circolare Co.Vi.So.C. prot. N°4051.4/GC/pc del 11 maggio 2005 in their 2007–08 financial report, Bonucci was sold for a €700,000 fee.
On 8 June 2009, Bonucci underwent a medical examination at Genoa. On 1 July, Inter officially announced that Bonucci, along with Acquafresca, Bolzoni and Meggiorini had been transferred to Genoa, as part of the deal that sent Diego Milito and Thiago Motta to Inter. Moreover, Ivan Fatić who was co-contracted ("co-owned") between Chievo and Inter, became co-contracted between Chievo and Genoa instead, according to a news article by La Gazzetta dello Sport. Bonucci was valued at €3 million at that time.
On 2 July, he was transferred to Bari from Genoa, on a co-ownership deal, for €1.75 million, along with Meggiorini (also on a co-ownership deal), Matteo Paro (on loan), Andrea Ranocchia (on loan) and Giuseppe Greco (on loan).
At Bari he became a first team player in central defence under head coach Gian Piero Ventura, showing a composed yet strong and effective defensive playing style. He formed an extremely strong defensive partnership with Andrea Ranocchia which was so effective that, as of the midway point in the 2009–10 season, Bari had the second best defensive record in Serie A. The strong partnership ended after Ranocchia got injured half-way through the season and was ruled out for the remaining fixtures.
On 1 July 2010, Bonucci was signed by Juventus on a four-year contract for a total of €15.5 million fee from Bari; Bari bought Bonucci from Genoa outright for €8 million. However, Genoa and Bari used part of the transfer receivables to sign the remaining 50% registration rights of Domenico Criscito and 50% of the registration rights of Sergio Bernardo Almirón from Juventus. Bonucci was assigned the shirt number 19.
Partnered with Italy teammate Giorgio Chiellini in defence, Bonucci was immediately drafted into the starting line-up for the first matches of the season. He scored his first goal for Juventus in the Europa League play-off match against Sturm Graz.
The following season, due to the presence of veteran of Andrea Barzagli, it was expected that Bonucci would compete with him for a starting place alongside Chiellini in a four-man defence, as the club's new manager Antonio Conte was known for his preference for the 4–2–4 formation, a variant upon the 4–4–2 formation. However, after experimenting with several tactical systems, Conte eventually decided to play all three players in a three-man defence aided by wingbacks in a 3–5–2 formation, and Bonucci established himself once again in the starting eleven alongside Chiellini and Barzagli. Due to their performances together, the three-man defence earned the nickname BBC, a reference to the players' initials. Soon, the trio established themselves as one of the best defences in world football during the following seasons. On 2 April 2012 Juventus announced that he had signed a new 5-year contract effective on 1 July 2012. Bonucci won his first major title, the 2011–12 Scudetto, and contributed two goals as Juventus finished the season undefeated and with one of the best defensive records in the top five European leagues. His good form that season earned him a place in the final UEFA Euro 2012 squad.
Bonucci began the season by winning the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana with Juventus. He made his Champions League debut against Chelsea in the group stage and scored his first goal in the competition against Shaktar Donetsk on October 2012 in a 1–1 draw. On December 2012 Bonucci was criticized for diving in a league game against Palermo on which was described by a number of journalists as "the worst dive ever". He was booked by the referee during the game and subsequently given a one-match ban and a €2000 fine by the authorities. Juventus finished the season by winning the 2012–13 Serie A title.
The following season, Bonucci would help Juventus to defend the Supercoppa Italiana and the Serie A title, although Juventus would suffer a group-stage elimination in the UEFA Champions League. Nevertheless, he helped Juventus to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League, scoring a decisive goal against Lyon in the quarter-finals.
During the 2014–15 season, Bonucci made his 200th appearance with Juventus on 25 January 2015, in a 2–0 win over Chievo. On 6 June 2015, Bonucci started for Juventus in the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final, but were defeated 3–1 by Barcelona at Berlin's Olympiastadion. With 52 appearances, he made the most appearances for Juventus that season across all competitions, along with team-mates Claudio Marchisio and Roberto Pereyra. On 24 November 2015, Bonucci was nominated for the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year. On 2 March 2016, he captained Juventus in the absence of Gianluigi Buffon and Chiellini, scoring the decisive penalty in the resulting shoot-out of the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals against Inter, at the San Siro, following a 3–3 draw on aggregate, which allowed Juventus to progress to the final; however, due to the yellow card he received during the match, and having already been booked prior to the fixture, he missed the victorious final against Milan, which saw Juventus capture a domestic double for the second consecutive season, including a record fifth consecutive league title.
During the beginning of the 2016–17 season, Bonucci dedicated time to his ill son Matteo, missing select matches with Juventus and the national team. On 27 November, Bonucci suffered a severe thigh strain in an eventual 3–1 away loss to Genoa, sidelining him for up to 60 days. On 19 December, Bonucci penned a new deal with Juventus, keeping him at the club until 2021. On 5 January 2017, Bonucci was named to the 2016 UEFA Team of the Year. On 30 January, Bonucci was named to the 2015–16 Serie A Team of the Year, and was also named the 2016 Serie A Footballer of the Year. Bonucci made his 300th Juventus appearance in a 4–1 home win over Palermo on 17 February; however, after Palermo scored a late goal, Bonucci had an argument on the touchline with coach Massimiliano Allegri, causing the club to fine and omit him from the squad for the first Champions League round of 16 leg with Porto on 22 February. On 17 May, Bonucci scored the last goal of a 2–0 win in the final of the 2016–17 Coppa Italia over Lazio. On 3 June, Bonucci started in his second Champions League Final in three years, but Juventus were defeated 4–1 by defending champions Real Madrid. On 5 June, he was subsequently named to the UEFA Champions League squad of the season.
On 14 July 2017, Bonucci was signed by A.C. Milan on a five-year contract for a €42 million fee. On 4 August 2017, Bonucci was named one of the three finalists for the Defender of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League season award. Milan's manager Vincenzo Montella subsequently named Bonucci as the team's new captain later that month. On 23 October, he was named to the 2017 FIFA FIFPro World11. Although much was expected of Bonucci and Milan, the first half of the 2017–18 season was disappointing both for him and the club, and he drew criticism in the media over the quality of his performances. He scored his first goal for Milan on 6 January 2018, in a 1–0 home win over Crotone. On 31 March, Bonucci scored the equalising goal against his former team away to Juventus, breaking goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon's record of longest consecutive minutes not conceded in an eventual 3–1 defeat.
Return to Juventus
On 2 August 2018, Bonucci returned to Juventus as part of a swap deal with A.C. Milan involving Mattia Caldara; both Bonucci and Caldara were tagged for €35 million transfer fee. He signed a five-year contract until 30 June 2023. Bonucci made his return for Juventus in their opening Serie A match on 18 August, a 3–2 away win over Chievo, contributing to Juventus's temporary equaliser, an own goal by Mattia Bani. On 29 September 2018, Bonucci scored his first goal for Juventus since his return from Milan, the final goal of a 3–1 home win over Napoli. On 2 October, he made his 50th Champions League appearance in a 3–0 home win over Young Boys. On 2 April 2019, Bonucci marked his 250th Serie A appearance with Juventus by scoring the opening goal in a 2–0 away win against Cagliari. However, following the match, he was heavily criticised by several prominent figures after stating that teammate Moise Kean was partly to blame for the racial abuse he suffered from the crowd; England international Raheem Sterling deemed the comments 'laughable', while compatriot Mario Balotelli, English singer Stormzy, and former Juventus player Paul Pogba also criticised Bonucci's comments. Bonucci implied that Kean's goal celebration caused further jeers, stating to Sky Sport Italia: "Kean knows that when he scores a goal, he has to focus on celebrating with his teammates. He knows he could've done something differently too. There were racist jeers after the goal, Blaise heard it and was angered. I think the blame is 50–50, because Moise shouldn't have done that and the Curva should not have reacted that way. We are professionals, we have to set the example and not provoke anyone." Later, he made a post on Instagram which read "Regardless of everything, in any case... no to racism." In response to the criticism, the following day, Bonucci posted on Instagram: "After 24 hours I want to clarify my feelings. Yesterday I was interviewed right at the end of the game, and my words have been clearly misunderstood, probably because I was too hasty in the way I expressed my thoughts. Hours and years wouldn't be enough to talk about this topic. I firmly condemn all forms of racism and discrimination. The abuses are not acceptable at all and this must not be misunderstood."
After Chiellini suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the beginning of the 2019–20 season, Bonucci captained Juventus in his absence. In November 2019, he signed a new contract with the club, running until 2024.
At youth level, Bonucci played for the Italy national under-21 football B team. He was called-up for a friendlies against Renate on 6 November 2007, and against the Under-20 Serie C representative team on 4 December 2007. He was also capped for the team in an internal friendly, which split the Under-21 Serie B team into two on 9 October 2007, on 21 October 2008, on 25 November, and on 24 March 2009, as team captain.
Bonucci made his debut with the Italy senior team on 3 March 2010, under manager Marcello Lippi, in a friendly match against Cameroon played in Monaco, which ended in a 0–0 draw, and became one of the few debutants to have never played an official match for the national youth teams. He was included by manager Marcello Lippi in the starting line-up along with national team regulars Fabio Cannavaro and Giorgio Chiellini, forming a three-man defensive line in Lippi's 3–4–3 formation.
Due to his performances during the 2009–10 season, Bonucci was included in the Italy squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored his first international goal on 3 June 2010, in a 1–2 friendly loss against Mexico, in a pre-tournament friendly match in Brussels. In the World Cup, he appeared as an unused substitute for all three of Italy's matches, as they suffered a first-round elimination, failing to win a match.
Bonucci ended a fine 2011–12 season by earning a place in the final 23-man Italy squad for UEFA Euro 2012, under manager Cesare Prandelli, helping Italy to reach the final of the tournament, where they were defeated 4–0 by defending champions Spain. He started in all but one match as Italy reached the finals.
In the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, he missed his spot-kick in the penalty shoot-out against Spain in the semi-finals, shooting high over the bar as Italy went out of the competition losing 7–6 on penalties; Italy would win the bronze medal match over Uruguay 4–3 on penalties, after a 2–2 draw following extra-time, allowing them to capture third place.
Bonucci was selected by Cesare Prandelli to be part of the Italy squad that would take part at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Although he once again remained an unused substitute for the first two games, he made his World Cup debut on 24 June 2014, in a 0–1 loss to Uruguay; as a result, Italy was eliminated in the first round of the competition for a second consecutive time.
On 4 September 2014, under new Italy manager Antonio Conte, Bonucci wore the captain's armband for Italy for the first time, following Daniele De Rossi's substitution in a 2–0 friendly win over the Netherlands.
On 31 May 2016, Bonucci was named to Conte's 23-man Italy squad for UEFA Euro 2016. On 13 June he set up Emanuele Giaccherini's goal, Italy's first of the match, with a long ball in a 2–0 win over Belgium in the opening group match of Euro 2016; he was later booked for a tactical foul. After helping Italy to another clean-sheet in a 1–0 victory in the second group match against Sweden on 17 June, Bonucci was once again praised for his defensive performances alongside Chiellini and Barzagli. On 22 June, he captained Italy in Buffon's absence in his nation's final group match, a 1–0 defeat to Ireland. On 27 June he produced a Man of the Match performance in the round of 16 of the tournament as he helped Italy to keep a third clean sheet and defeat defending champions Spain 2–0. In the quarter-final fixture against Germany on 2 July, he scored Italy's equalising goal from a penalty, although his spot-kick was saved by Manuel Neuer in the resulting shoot-out, as the reigning World Cup champions advanced to the semi-finals following a 6–5 shoot-out victory.
In the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Italy finished in second place in Group G behind Spain and advanced to the play-off against Sweden. Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1–0 aggregate loss to the Scandinavians.
On 12 October 2019, Bonucci made his 92nd international appearance, under manager Roberto Mancini, in a 2–0 home win over Greece, and overtook Alessandro Del Piero as the tenth-most capped player in the history of the Italian national team; the victory sealed Italy's qualification for Euro 2020. He made his 94th appearance for Italy on 15 November, in a 3–0 away win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a Euro 2020 qualifier, equalling Giacinto Facchetti as the ninth most-capped Italian player of all time.
On 11 October 2020, Bonucci made his 98th international appearance in a 0–0 away draw against Poland in the UEFA Nations League, equalling Gianluca Zambrotta as the eight–most capped player of all–time for the Italian national team.
Style of play
A former midfielder who is usually deployed as ball-playing centre-back in a three-man defence (although he is also capable of playing in a four-man defence, both in the centre or out wide), Bonucci is primarily known for his technique, passing range, and his ability to launch an attack from the back with long passes. Although he is not the quickest player over short distances, he is a tall, mobile, and strong defender, with a good positional sense, as well as good anticipation, solid tackling, and an ability to read the game and mark opponents, on top of his ball skills; he also excels in the air, and frequently poses a goal threat from set pieces. Although he was considered to be a talented and promising young defender, he was also criticised by certain pundits for being inconsistent and prone to errors or lapses in concentration in his youth, which were dubbed "Bonucciate" in the Italian media; however, he showed notable improvements during the 2014–15 season, and established himself as one of the best defenders in world football, also drawing praise from manager Pep Guardiola, who described Bonucci as one of his "favourite ever players". In 2016, Mario Sconcerti of Il Corriere della Sera ranked Bonucci among the greatest Italian defenders of all time. His unique playing style has led Giovanni Galli to compare him to former sweeper Gaetano Scirea. In 2012, The Guardian named him the 88th Best Player in the World and in 2016, he was named the 26th Best Player in the World. In 2016, his defensive attributes, as well as his skill on the ball, vision, and accurate passing, moved La Repubblica to dub him as “Beckenbonucci”, a reference to former German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer. In addition to his defensive, playmaking and technical skills, Bonucci has also been praised for his leadership and ability to organise his back-line. In 2017, he was ranked by some as the best defender in the world.
On 18 June 2011, Bonucci married Martina Maccari (b. 19 November 1985), a former model and blogger, whom she first met in 2008 through a mutual friend. They have two sons, Lorenzo (b. July 2012) and Matteo (b. May 2014), and one daughter, Matilda (b. February 2019). Although Bonucci played for Juventus for several seasons, his eldest son, Lorenzo, supports Juventus's cross-city rivals, Torino. In July 2016, Bonucci's youngest son, Matteo underwent emergency surgery following the onset of an acute illness. In a 2017 interview with El País, Bonucci revealed that his son's illness had even led him to think about quitting football, commenting:
"For three or four months, my head was just not in the right place, it’s the head that gets the legs moving. For around 15 days after the surgery, until I started to see him improving, I was just not interested in training or anything to do with football. I've always hated hospitals and tried to avoid them, but at that time I had to be there and I was really struggling to be calm. Matteo is much better now and our family feels more united than ever. Yes, I thought about quitting. Football was just not my priority at that moment. You see your son with so much to live for, he’s asking you so many questions and why this is happening to him... and I had no answers. Priorities change at those times. Now I tell myself that I am lucky. Everything I have done has been from the heart."
In May 2012, during the 2011–12 Italian football scandal investigations, Bonucci, along with Juventus teammate Simone Pepe and manager Antonio Conte, as well as many other players, were accused of match-fixing; Bonucci was accused of helping to fix the result of a 3–3 draw against Udinese in May 2010, during his time with Bari, and faced a potential three-and-a-half year ban if found guilty. Bonucci denied any wrongdoing, however, and both he and Pepe were later acquitted in August later that year.
In October 2012, Bonucci and his wife and then five-month-old son were confronted by an armed robber who demanded the defender hand over his watch. As the robber reached out to take the watch, Bonucci reportedly punched him and chased him down the street. The robber escaped with his accomplice on a motorbike.
Bonucci is an anti-bullying activist. In December 2017, he made a cameo appearance in the music video for "Buona fortuna" by Benji & Fede, whose storyline deals with bullying. In October 2019, together with the journalist and editor Francesco Ceniti, he co-wrote and released a book "Il mio amico Leo", partially inspired by his own experiences and designed to provide support to bullying victims.
On 1 April 2021, Bonucci tested positive for COVID-19 amid its pandemic in Italy; by 12 April, he recovered.
|Inter Milan||2005–06||Serie A||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|Treviso (loan)||2007–08||Serie B||27||2||0||0||—||—||27||2|
|Pisa (loan)||2008–09||Serie B||18||1||0||0||—||—||18||1|
- As of match played on 28 March 2021. Italy score listed first, score column indicates score after each Bonucci goal.
|1||3 June 2010||King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium||Mexico||1–2||1–2||Friendly|
|2||3 September 2010||A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia||Estonia||2–1||2–1||UEFA Euro 2012 qualification|
|3||9 September 2014||Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway||Norway||2–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 2016 qualification|
|4||2 July 2016||Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France||Germany||1–1||1–1 (5–6 p)||UEFA Euro 2016|
|5||28 March 2017||Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Netherlands||Netherlands||2–1||2–1||Friendly|
|6||1 June 2018||Allianz Riviera, Nice, France||France||1–2||1–3|
|7||8 June 2019||Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece||Greece||3–0||3–0||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
- Serie A: 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2018–19, 2019–20
- Coppa Italia: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2020–21
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018, 2020
- FIFA FIFPro World11: 2017; 4th team: 2016
- Serie A Team of the Year: 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2019–20
- Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2015–16
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2016
- UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season: 2013–14, 2017–18
- UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: 2016–17
- ESM Team of the Year: 2016–17
- L'Équipe Team of the Year: 2016
- IFFHS Men's World Team: 2017
- EA Sports FIFA Team of the Year: 2017
- Ballon d'Or nominee: 2017
- IFFHS UEFA team of the decade 2011–2020
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- "Bonucci riscattato dal Bari" (Press release) (in Italian). A.S. Bari. 24 June 2010. Archived from the original on 29 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
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