As Tottenham are set to complete the signing of Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini on an initial loan deal, Oli Coates points out five things you may not know about the 26-year-old Italian stopper.
Pierluigi Gollini has come a long way since starting his career as a fresh-faced 15-year-old with Fiorentina back in 2010. More than a decade later, the Bologna-born goalkeeper heads to England to challenge French World Cup winning captain Hugo Lloris for the number one spot at Tottenham.
Aside from the fact that his name sounds very similar to legendary Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, what else do you need to know about the Premier League-bound stopper?
1. He played for Manchester United
Despite starting out as a defender, Gollini’s early promise as a goalkeeper saw him snapped up by English giants Man United. The Red Devils brought the then-teenager to Old Trafford in 2012, when Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge. He remained in United’s youth academy for two years, before heading back to Italy to join Verona. Gollini didn’t make an appearance for the Manchester club, but the experience was no doubt invaluable for his career. He has previously spoken of his excitement when meeting United legends such as Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, not long after watching them play on his sofa at home.
2. And for Aston Villa
After breaking into Verona’s first team and becoming the No. 1 during their 2015-16 Serie A campaign, it didn’t take long for clubs in England to come back in for Gollini. He moved to Aston Villa in July 2016 and made 20 appearances in the Championship, as the Villans eventually finished 13th in the English second tier. He would only stay for a single season before returning to Italy once more, joining Atalanta on an initial 18-month loan before establishing himself in the starting XI during the 2018-19 campaign.
3. He’s a rapper
No, really. Gollini got deeper into his rap music when in England, and has proclaimed his love of artists such as Tedua and the Notorious B.I.G. He took his passion into the recording studio, releasing a single called ‘Rapper coi guanti’ – rapper with gloves – in 2018 under the pseudonym Gollorius. With proceeds going to charity, his lyrics address things like his time in Manchester and passion for music. Gollini was mindful of doing anything that would lead to criticism of his performances on the pitch, but hopes that Italy can one day catch up the United States with respect to sportsmen enjoying musical careers alongside sporting ones.
4. Italy debut
Gollini made the first of his three appearances for Italy’s under-21 team in June 2016, losing 1-0 to France. His one and only appearance for the senior side so far came in November 2019, when Roberto Mancini brought him on as a late substitute for Gianluigi Donnarumma in a 3-0 away victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in qualifying for Euro 2020. Unfortunately, Gollini didn’t make the final squad for this summer’s tournament, but he will hope to force his way back into the Azzurri setup through his performances at Spurs.
5. Family comes first
Reflecting on the various people who’ve had an important influence on his career, Gollini puts his family at the top of the pile. After acknowledging the support of his parents in helping him on his journey so far, he also pays tribute to former goalkeeping coach at Verona, Gaetano Petrelli. According to Gollini, Petrelli helped him truly get to grips with the basics and in doing so, improve the overall quality of his game.