Happy birthday, Leo Bonucci

by | May 1, 2018 09:29

Today is the 31st birthday of Milan captain and Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci.

The defender was born in Viterbo in 1987, and began his career with local side Viterbese, before being signed-up to play in Inter’s youth team.

Bonucci made his Serie A debut in the last match of the 2005–06 season against Cagliari, and was bought outright that summer.

However, he only ever made four appearances for the Nerazzurri and after loan spells at Treviso and Pisa he was sold to Genoa as part of the deal to sign Thiago Motta and Diego Milito.

Today is the 31st birthday of Milan captain and Italy centre-back Leonardo Bonucci.

The defender was born in Viterbo in 1987, and began his career with local side Viterbese, before being signed-up to play in Inter’s youth team.

Bonucci made his Serie A debut in the last match of the 2005–06 season against Cagliari, and was bought outright that summer.

However, he only ever made four appearances for the Nerazzurri and after loan spells at Treviso and Pisa he was sold to Genoa as part of the deal to sign Thiago Motta and Diego Milito.

Bari then bought half of the centre-back’s registration in a co-ownership deal, and he formed a strong partnership with Andrea Ranocchia.

The Galletti finished 10th, conceding just 49 goals in their 38 games and both young centre-backs were highly sought-after that summer.

In the end Ranocchia joined Inter for a total of €19m, while Bonucci joined Juventus for €15.5m.

Bonucci initially struggled in Turin, but the arrival of Antonio Conte in the summer of 2011 changed his fortunes.

Andrea Barzagli had been signed from Wolfsburg in January of that year, and the new Coach deployed Bonucci in a back-three alongside the World Cup-winner and Giorgio Chiellini.

The trio would become one of the most feared defensive units in world football, earning the nickname ‘The BBC’ as they excelled for both Juventus and Italy.

Combined with Chiellini’s aggression and Barzagli’s intelligence, Bonucci’s ball-playing skills allowed him to step out from the back, launching attacks with his range of passing.

With the BBC as their foundation, the Bianconeri won six Scudetti in a row, as well as three consecutive Coppe Italia.

They also reached the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017, but were ultimately beaten on both occasions.

It was on the run to that final that Bonucci’s Juventus career effectively ended, as he was dropped for an away match at Porto after a row with Coach Massimiliano Allegri.

When SportMediaset broke the story on July 12 2017 that Milan had made an offer to buy Bonucci, the reaction was one of incredulity.

As the hours passed though it became clear that there was substance to the story, and the defender eventually joined the Rossoneri for €42m.

He was immediately made club captain, with the Diavolo hoping he could have the same impact as Andrea Pirlo had when he joined the Turin club in 2011.

Initially Bonucci struggled, with Coach Vincenzo Montella switching to a back-three to try to get the best from his captain.

Since the arrival of Gennaro Gattuso though, Bonucci has once again become a solid presence at the back, and he remains a key player for both club and country.

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