Nicola Ventola

Nicola Ventola (born 24 May 1978) is a retired Italian footballer who played as a forward. Ventola played for several clubs in Italy throughout his career, and also had a loan spell with English side Crystal Palace. At international level, he was a member of the Italian under-23 squad at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney; he received his only senior call-up for Italy in 1998, although he did not come off the bench. At youth level, he also represented the Italy under-21 side, and was a member of the team that won the 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, also winning a gold medal at the 1997 Mediterranean Games with the under-23 side. He retired from football in February 2011.[1]

Nicola Ventola
Ventola in 2017
Personal information
Full name Nicola Ventola
Date of birth (1978-05-24) 24 May 1978 (age 43)
Place of birth Grumo Appula, Italy
Height 1.87 m (6 ft 2 in)
Position(s) Striker
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–1998 Bari 44 (12)
1998–1999 Inter Milan 21 (6)
1999–2000 Bologna 14 (0)
2000–2005 Inter Milan 16 (4)
2000–2001Atalanta (loan) 28 (10)
2003–2004Siena (loan) 28 (4)
2004–2005Crystal Palace (loan) 3 (1)
2005–2007 Atalanta 64 (23)
2007–2009 Torino 35 (6)
2009–2011 Novara 26 (4)
National team
1994 Italy U-17 2 (1)
1995 Italy U-18 4 (2)
1995–1996 Italy U-19 18 (14)
1996–2000 Italy U-21 / Olympic 25 (12)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career

Born in Grumo Appula, Bari, Nicola Ventola's career began with Bari in 1994 as a youth player. He made his Serie A debut on 6 November 1994 against ACF Fiorentina, at the age of 16 and 166 days.[2][3] He left the club in 1998 after three more seasons[4] (one in Serie B, winning the 1996–97 title, and two in Serie A), after scoring 12 goals in 45 appearances with the club[5] (10 of which were scored in Serie B and 2 in Serie A).[2][6]

Ventola signed for Inter Milan during the 1998–99 season, making 21 appearances in the league, and scoring 6 goals, playing alongside other notable forwards, such as Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio, Iván Zamorano, Andrea Pirlo, and Youri Djorkaeff, albeit mainly as a substitute.[2] During the season, he showed real star potential for his young age, scoring 11 goals in all competitions, as well as a goal against eventual European Cup winners Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the 1998–99 UEFA Champions League. However, exactly a year later he was signed on a co-ownership deal with Bologna (after Christian Vieri's £32 million transfer to Inter Milan from Lazio) and later Atalanta during the next two seasons, in a swap deal with Corrado Colombo.[7] During his loan period with Bologna, he made 14 appearances in Serie A, without scoring a goal, although he managed 4 goals in 7 appearances in the 1999–2000 Coppa Italia and the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup.[2] With Atalanta, he had a more successful league season, scoring 10 goals in 28 Serie A appearances during the 2000–01 season.[2]

Ventola returned to Inter in 2001, but he suffered from several injuries that season, only making 16 appearances and scoring 4 goals in Serie A, as Inter narrowly missed out on the Serie A title; however, he bagged an impressive 5 goals in 9 appearances in Europe, as Inter reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, and finished the season with a total of 10 goals in all competitions.[8] The following season, he was not picked regularly for the first team, and he went on loan once again to Siena in 2003,[4] where he made 28 appearances, scoring 4 goals during the 2003–04 season.[2] Premier League side Crystal Palace signed him on transfer deadline day in August 2004 on a season-long loan but this was wrecked by injury and he only made a handful of appearances. He did however score against Southampton on the penultimate day of the season; in total he made 3 appearances and scored 1 goal during the 2004–05 season.[2][9]

In July 2005 Ventola signed a two-year contract with Atalanta. In his first season back at the club, he helped his team to win the 2005–06 Serie B title with his decisive goalscoring performances,[4] scoring 15 goals in 35 appearances. He scored six goals in 29 games during the 2006–07 Serie A season, but he later became excluded from the club and his contract was not renewed.[2][3] In total he scored 35 goals for the club in 101 appearances between league and Coppa Italia matches over three seasons (two in Serie A and one in Serie B).[4]

In June 2007 he joined Torino F.C. on a two-year contract.[10] With Torino, he made 21 appearances, scoring 4 goals during his first season; during his second season he received less playing time, scoring 2 goals in 14 appearances. In Torino's 3–1 home loss against Lazio, he replaced Sereni in goal, who had been sent off, as Torino had already made three substitutions, failing to stop a Mauro Zárate penalty.[2][11] At the end of the season, Torino were relegated to Serie B, and Ventola's contract was not renewed.[2][12]

Ventola subsequently moved to Lega Pro team Novara,[2] making his debut for the team on 9 November 2009, in a 3–0 win over Lecco.[13] He scored his first goal on 17 January 2010, in a draw against Como. On 25 April, he scored a brace in a 3–3 draw against Cremonese, which allowed Novara to win promotion to Serie B.[2] He retired on 27 January 2011, at the age of 33, due to persisting physical problems.[2][14] In total he score 90 career goals in 342 appearances in official competitions.[4]

International career

Ventola played his first competitive international match for the Italy national under-17 football team (made up of players born in and after 1977), in a 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Championship qualifying fixture; in total, he scored 1 goal in 2 appearances for the under-17 side, featuring as a substitute for Ivano Montanaro, and as a starter respectively. He also scored 1 goal in the group stage of the 1996 UEFA European Under-18 Championship for the Italy national under-19 football team, serving as the team's captain.[15] After the team was eliminated, Ventola was immediately promoted to the Italy national under-21 football team as one of their youngest players. He made his debut for the Italy under-21 side on 3 October 1996, at the age of 18, in a 1998 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying match, coming on as a substitute for Fabrizio Cammarata [it].[16]

Ventola made 25 appearances with the Italy Under-21 and Under-23 sides, scoring 12 goals,[17] winning the 1997 Mediterranean Games[18] and the 2000 UEFA Under-21 European Championship[19] with the team; he also represented Italy at the 2000 Summer Olympics, where they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the tournament by eventual runners-up Spain.[20]

Although he was never capped at senior level, he was called up by manager Dino Zoff to the Italian senior side for a Euro 2000 qualifying match against Switzerland, at the Stadio Friuli of Udine, on 10 October 1998, but remained on the bench as an unused substitute in the eventual 2–0 win.[2][17][21]

Style of play

An agile and talented right-footed player, with good technique, Ventola was considered one of Bari's and Italy's most promising prospects in his youth, although he suffered many injuries throughout his career. His main attributes as a striker were his speed, power, heading ability, positional sense, eye for goal, and ability to provide depth to his team with his runs. Although he usually played as a central striker, he was also capable of playing in a deeper role as a second striker, due to his ability to link up with and create chances for his teammates.[2][4][5][8][18][19][22][23][24]

Personal life

Ventola has a son, Kelian (b. 22 September 2003),[5] with his wife, Swiss-Brazilian model Kartika Luyet.[5][4][25] In 2013, Erick Thohir, Inter Milan's president at the time, stated that Ventola is his all-time favorite Inter player.[26] Ventola currently lives in Dubai, where he works as a pundit for Abu Dhabi Media.[5][4] His nephew Danilo Giacinto Ventola is now a professional footballer.[27]







  1. "Nicola Ventola finisce la carriera, ecco la storia di un talento puro" (in Italian). Panorama. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  2. Gianni Gardon (8 May 2014). "Stelle Comete - Nicola Ventola" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  3. Di Chiara, Filippo (18 November 2005). "Io, Ventola rinato mille volte". (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  4. "Che fine ha fatto Nicola Ventola" (in Italian). Bergamo Post. 6 June 2015. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  5. Pasquale Caputi (23 September 2015). "Dallo stadio di Bari alla tv di Dubai Ecco la favola di Nicola Ventola" (in Italian). Il Corriere del Mezzogiorno. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  6. "VENTOLA NICOLA" (in Italian). Tutto Calciatori. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  7. "ARRIVA IL GIOVANE COLOMBO DALL'ATALANTA" (in Italian). 24 June 2000. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  8. Edo Dalmonte (24 May 2017). "Whatever happened to Nicola Ventola?". Football Italia. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  9. "C Palace 2-2 Southampton". BBC. 7 May 2005. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  10. "Toro seal triple swoop". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 21 June 2007.
  11. "Lazio a valanga a Torino, il sogno continua" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  12. "UFFICIALE: Nicola Ventola firma con il Torino" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  13. "UFFICIALE: Novara, preso Ventola" (in Italian). Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  14. "Nicola Ventola lascia la maglia Azzurra" (in Italian). Novara Calcio. 27 January 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  15. Match Report (in Italian)
  16. "MOLDAVIA-ITALIA: Match Report" (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  17. "Convocazioni e presenze in campo: Nicola Ventola" (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  18. "Ai Giochi del Mediterraneo un successo senza gioia: continua l'ostracismo nei confronti del giovane attaccante azzurro Tutti contro Ventola, ma l'Italia è in finale Invasione dei tifosi del Lecce per punire il barese Colpito anche Tardelli che lo stava difendendo" (in Italian). Il Tirreno. 24 June 1997. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  19. "Campioncini d'Europa" (in Italian). Rai Sport. 4 June 2000. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  20. "Italia sconfitta" (in Italian). RaiSport. 23 September 2000. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  21. "Italia-Svizzera 2-0" (in Italian). RAISport. 10 October 1998. Archived from the original on 10 February 1999. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  22. Ilario Imparato (22 June 2007). "Toro: Bjelanovic e Ventola promettono scintille" (in Italian). Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  23. "Diretta centro Sisport" (in Italian). Tutto Toro. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  24. "Ottimo esordio dell' under 23" (in Italian). RaiSport. 19 June 1997. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  25. "Kartika, che (s)Ventola di moglie!" (in Italian). 7 May 2009. Archived from the original on 31 August 2009.
  26. "Inter, Thohir: "Il mio preferito? Ventola. E mio figlio tifa Juve"" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  27. "L'ultimo colpo del Rimini arriva dal Genoa: Danilo Giacinto Ventola". News Rimini (in Italian). 21 July 2019.
  28. "Nicola Ventola" (in French). Retrieved 14 February 2015.