Roberto Donadoni

Roberto Donadoni (Italian pronunciation: [roˈbɛrto donaˈdoːni]; born 9 September 1963) is an Italian football manager and former midfielder.

Roberto Donadoni
Personal information
Full name Roberto Donadoni[1]
Date of birth (1963-09-09) 9 September 1963 (age 57)
Place of birth Cisano Bergamasco, Italy
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1981–1982 Atalanta
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1986 Atalanta 96 (5)
1986–1996 Milan 261 (18)
1996–1997 MetroStars 49 (6)
1997–1999 Milan 24 (0)
1999–2000 Al-Ittihad 15 (0)
Total 445 (29)
National team
1984–1986 Italy U21 13 (1)
1986–1996 Italy 63 (5)
Teams managed
2001 Lecco
2002 Lecco
2002–2003 Livorno
2003 Genoa
2004–2006 Livorno
2006–2008 Italy
2009 Napoli
2010–2011 Cagliari
2012–2015 Parma
2015–2018 Bologna
2019–2020 Shenzhen
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

A complete, versatile, hard-working, gracefully gifted winger, who was known for his pace, stamina, offensive capabilities, distribution and technical skills, Donadoni was capable of playing on either flank, or even in the centre.[2] Donadoni began his career with Atalanta, and he later became a pillar of the powerhouse Milan team of the late 1980s and early '90s, achieving notable domestic and international success during his time with the club. In his later career, he was also one of the pioneers of Major League Soccer, where he played two seasons for the NY/NJ MetroStars, ending his career with Saudi Premier League side Ittihad in 2000.

At international level, Donadoni was also an important member of the Italy national team throughout the late 1980s and early '90s. He represented his country at the 1988 and 1996 European Championships, and at the 1990 and 1994 FIFA World Cups. With Italy, he reached the semi-finals of Euro 1988, and won bronze and silver medals at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups respectively.

Following his playing career, Donadoni began a career as a manager in 2001, which included spells with Italian clubs Lecco, Livorno and Genoa. He was later appointed head coach of the Italy national team, succeeding Marcello Lippi, who resigned after having won the 2006 World Cup. At Euro 2008, with Donadoni as coach, Italy reached the quarter-finals of the tournament, losing to eventual champions Spain on penalties. On 26 June 2008, Donadoni was dismissed despite having signed a contract extension prior to the beginning of Euro 2008, using a clause in the contract which allowed termination if Italy did not reach the semi-final. He was replaced by Lippi, who returned as national team manager. Following his position as Italy head coach, Donadoni managed Napoli, Cagliari and Parma, until the latter club's bankruptcy in 2015. He then joined Bologna the following season.

Club career

Atalanta and Milan

Donadoni started his career with Atalanta in 1982, winning the Serie C1 title, and the Serie B title in 1984. He joined Milan in 1986 and he became a mainstay in the legendary team that dominated Italy and Europe in the late 1980s and early-to-mid-1990s. Usually playing a right-sided wide midfield role, Donadoni was a vital part of Milan's squad under both Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, winning six Serie A titles, three European Cups, four Supercoppa Italiana, three European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups during his time at Milan. Although Donadoni failed to win the Coppa Italia with Milan, he reached the final twice, during the 1989–90 and 1997–98 seasons.[3][4]

Donadoni came close to being one of a handful of players to ever die on-field, during the 1988–89 European Cup campaign in a match against Red Star Belgrade. He had his life saved only through the quick-thinking of Red Star's physiotherapist, who broke his jaw to make a passage for oxygen to reach his lungs after he had suffered a bad foul and lay unconscious.[4]


After winning his fifth Serie A title with Milan, and following the retirement of several key Milan players, including Franco Baresi and Mauro Tassotti, as well as the departure of manager Fabio Capello, Donadoni temporarily retired from professional football, although he later went on to play in Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States. The NY/NJ MetroStars of MLS made him a centerpiece of their franchise when they signed him in 1996. During his first year with the Metros, he was recalled to the Italy national team. He proved a solid performer, being named to the league Best XI in 1996, and was also named an MLS Eastern Conference All-Star, winning the inaugural 1996 MLS All-Star Game 3–2 over the Western Conference MLS All-Stars.[5] Unfortunately, Donadoni's play could not bring the MetroStars any success as a club. In total, Donadoni scored six goals for the MetroStars.[4]

Second spell at Milan and final season with Al-Ittihad

Donadoni briefly rejoined Milan after the 1997 MLS season, helping lead them to another Coppa Italia final in 1998 during Fabio Capello's second spell with the club. He also won another Serie A title under Alberto Zaccheroni in 1999, his sixth and final career Serie A title. In total, Donadoni scored 18 career Serie A goals for Milan in 287 appearances, and 23 in 390 appearances throughout all competitions.[3][4]

He ended his career by playing for a short time with Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia, winning the Saudi Premier League during the 1999–2000 season, and officially retiring from professional football soon after.[4]

International career

Youth career, senior debut, Euro 88, and 1990 World Cup

A member of the Italy under-21 national football team, reaching the final of the 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Donadoni made his Italy national team senior debut on 8 October 1986, under Azeglio Vicini in a 2–0 victory over Greece. He soon became a key member of his national side, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 1988, and he subsequently played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, on home soil, helping Italy to a third place finish. Unfortunately, he missed one of the penalties in the fateful semi-final shoot-out against defending champions and eventual runners-up Argentina.[6] Overall, he made five appearances throughout the tournament, missing out on the round of 16 victory against Uruguay due to injury,[7] and the bronze medal match victory against England.[8]

1994 World Cup and Euro 96

Donadoni also took part at the 1994 World Cup, under Arrigo Sacchi, helping Italy to a second-place finish, where Italy would once again be defeated on penalties, by Brazil. However, on this occasion Donadoni did not take a penalty in the final shoot-out.[9] En route to the final, he set up Dino Baggio's goal in Italy's 2–1 quarter-final victory over Spain,[10] and also provided the throw-in on the left flank from which Roberto Baggio scored his first goal in Italy's 2–1 over Bulgaria in the semi-finals of the tournament.[11][12] He also represented Italy at Euro 1996, which would be his final international tournament prior to his international retirement, appearing in all three group matches. His final appearance for Italy was on 19 June 1996, in the final group match, which ended in a 0–0 draw against the eventual champions Germany, eliminating the Italians in the first round of the tournament.[13] Overall, Donadoni made 63 appearances for Italy, scoring five goals.[4][8]

Style of play

Regarded as one of Italy's greatest ever wingers, Donadoni was a quick, consistent, intelligent and complete wide midfielder, who was capable of playing anywhere in midfield except for defensive midfield. He could play on either wing, through the centre, or even as an attacking midfielder, although he was most frequently deployed on the right flank. A highly talented and diminutive player, who was an important member of his club and national sides throughout his career, he stood out for his pace, agility, and outstanding technical ability; his acceleration, control, dribbling skills, and creativity allowed him to beat players with feints both in one on one situations, or when undertaking individual runs. A hard-working, tactically versatile and energetic player, he was also known for his stamina, which allowed him to contribute defensively as well as offensively. His vision and distribution enabled him to function as a box-to-box player, or particularly in his later career as a midfield playmaker, due to his ability to orchestrate attacking moves for his team. Donadoni possessed a unique capability to deliver assists to teammates in the area from accurate curling crosses and set-pieces. He was also a powerful and accurate striker of the ball from distance with either foot, despite being naturally right-footed, and an effective free kick taker.[2][3][4][14][15][16][17][18] Michel Platini described him as Italy's greatest player of the 1990s.[19][20] Regarding his playing style, Donadoni once commnted "My greatest satisfaction comes from making the pass that leads to the goal."[21]

Managerial career

Early club career: Lecco, Livorno, and Genoa

After retiring as a player, Donadoni trained to become a coach. His first job was as Lecco and he made his debut on 12 August 2001 in the Coppa Italia Lega Pro.[22] This was followed by jobs with Livorno (2002–03) and Genoa (2003). In 2005, he returned to head Livorno in mid-season. After leading them to a surprising ninth-place finish and having the club in sixth place midway through the 2005–06 season, Donadoni resigned over criticism from club chairman Aldo Spinelli.

International career

In July 2006, following the resignation of Marcello Lippi three days after the Italy national team won the 2006 World Cup, Donadoni was named as new Italian head coach,[23] his first task being to successfully lead Italy through qualification for UEFA Euro 2008.

On 16 August, Donadoni made his Italy head coaching debut in a friendly match against Croatia played at Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno, which did not feature any of the 23 world champions, save for third goalkeeper Marco Amelia, and ended in a 2–0 defeat. Donadoni took solace in the fact Lippi's first match in charge of the Azzurri was also a friendly defeat, to Iceland.

Path to Euro 2008

Donadoni's competitive debut came in Euro 2008 qualifying. Italy drew its first match 1–1 with Lithuania, then lost 3–1 to France. Accordingly, Italian newspaper La Nazione's front page featured, "How to reduce Lippi's masterwork to pieces in just three weeks,"[24] requesting the return of Lippi. However, despite all the critics, Donadoni led Italy to five wins in a row to Georgia (3–1), Ukraine (2–0) and Scotland (2–0), the former being controversial for his omission of star Alessandro Del Piero from the squad.[25] One of the main criticisms addressed by the media towards Donadoni was his alleged lack of pressure in persuading Francesco Totti to play again for the Azzurri. Following a question regarding a possible call-up for the Roma player, Donadoni jokingly claimed not to know him.[26]

Italy qualified for Euro 2008 after a successful campaign, topping the group ahead of France, in spite of the shaky start. They defeated Scotland 2–1 in Glasgow to confirm their qualification.

Euro 2008 campaign

On 9 June 2008, Donadoni was handed the biggest defeat for Italy's national team in over 25 years by former Milan teammate Marco van Basten, a 3–0 loss to the Netherlands. Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro was unable to play due to injury, and Donadoni was widely criticised for his choice of players for the match. His team drew the subsequent match with Romania on 13 June, despite some controversial officiating which saw a goal called back in each of these games creating intense criticism of the officials. The team then beat France 2–0 on 17 June to progress to the quarter-finals against much-fancied Spain, the eventual champions. The two teams played out a 0–0 draw, the only match Spain was held scoreless in regular time throughout the tournament. However, the Spaniards won 4–2 on penalties.

After Italy's disappointing performance at the tournament, on 26 June 2008 Donadoni was sacked by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC),[27] which named Lippi as his replacement.

Post-international club coaching career


On 10 March 2009, Napoli announced it had appointed Donadoni as its new head coach following the termination of Edoardo Reja after five years leading the club.[28] Donadoni's first match in charge was a 1–1 draw with Reggina.

After a 2–1 loss to Roma on 6 October 2009, Donadoni was terminated as Napoli manager. He was replaced by former Sampdoria coach Walter Mazzarri.[29]


On 16 November 2010, it was announced Donadoni would become head coach of Serie A relegation battlers Cagliari, replacing Pierpaolo Bisoli.[30][31] After joining Cagliari, the club won its next two matches, 2–1 against Brescia on 21 November and 3–2 against Lecce on 28 November.

However, on 12 August 2011, two weeks prior to the start of the 2011–12 Serie A, Donadoni was surprisingly sacked by Cagliari chairman Massimo Cellino.[32] Italian press sources cited divergencies between Donadoni and Cellino regarding the sale of Alessandro Matri to Juventus and the affair involving David Suazo, who first joined the pre-season training camp only to be asked to leave days later.[33]

Donadoni was in talks with Iran Pro League side Persepolis in December 2011. However, no contract was reached.


On 9 January 2012, Donadoni was unveiled as head coach of Serie A club Parma, replacing Franco Colomba.[34] Upon arriving at the club, the situation in the league table was critical for Parma, being close to the relegation zone.

Parma's results improved immediately under Donadoni, winning seven Serie A matches in a row, a club record. Parma would finish the season in eighth place in the league table, equal on points with seventh-placed Roma.

Donadoni's initial contract ran until 2013, but this was extended by two years in October 2012, the longest deal club president Tommaso Ghirardi had made with a head coach. At the end of the 2012–13 season, Parma impressed and finished in a comfortable tenth place, despite initial fears it would be relegated.[35] In 2014, Donadoni guided Parma to sixth place in Serie A, helping the club to qualify for the UEFA Europa League for the first time since 2007. However, their entry to the tournament was barred because of the late payment of income tax on salaries, failing to qualify for a UEFA license, for which the club would also be docked seven points during the 2014–15 Serie A season.[36][37]

The following season, Parma's continuing severe financial difficulties led to the club's eventual bankruptcy in March 2015, which meant the club be relegated. Although the FIGC allowed the club to complete the league season in Serie A, they finished bottom of the league in 20th place. Donadoni, who reported that he, as well as the Parma staff and players, had not received wages since July 2014, left the club at the end of the season.[38]


In October 2015, Donadoni was hired by newly promoted Serie A club Bologna as the club's new coach, replacing Delio Rossi.[39] Donadoni parted with Bologna on 24 May 2018.[40]


On 30 July 2019, Donadoni was appointed as manager of Chinese club Shenzhen.[41]

Managerial statistics

As of 10 August 2020
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
Lecco 2 July 2001 3 December 2001 18 6 5 7 25 21 +4 033.33
Lecco 20 March 2002 22 June 2002 7 3 3 1 9 5 +4 042.86
Livorno 22 June 2002 30 June 2003 41 14 13 14 54 48 +6 034.15
Genoa 30 June 2003 21 September 2003 6 1 1 4 4 7 −3 016.67
Livorno 11 January 2005 6 February 2006 46 17 16 13 60 62 −2 036.96
Italy 13 July 2006 26 June 2008 23 13 5 5 35 22 +13 056.52
Napoli 10 March 2009 6 October 2009 19 5 6 8 23 26 −3 026.32
Cagliari 16 November 2010 12 August 2011 27 10 4 13 33 43 −10 037.04
Parma 9 January 2012 22 June 2015 141 47 39 55 181 195 −14 033.33
Bologna 28 October 2015 24 May 2018 108 33 23 52 115 146 −31 030.56
Shenzhen 30 July 2019 11 August 2020 14 2 4 8 23 33 −10 014.29
Total 450 151 119 180 562 608 −46 033.56



Italy national football team[4]


5th Class/Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 1991[45]


  1. "Donadoni Sig. Roberto" [Donadoni Mr. Roberto]. Quirinale (in Italian). Presidenza della Repubblica Italiana. Retrieved 13 December 2020.
  2. "Sconcerti: "Donadoni era un giocatore completo, ora è un eccellente allenatore". (in Italian). Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  3. "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). A.C. Milan. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  4. "Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  5. "All-Star Game flashback, 1996: East wins inaugural event". MLS Soccer. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  6. "La notte degli errori" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  7. "Un Serena per amico" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  8. "Nazionale in cifre: Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). FIGC. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  9. Gianni Mura (18 July 1994). "Sconfitti, a testa alta" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  10. Giancarlo Padovan (10 July 1994). "Spagna Adios, l'Italia avanza" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  11. "Italia-Bulgaria, Coppa del Mondo USA 1994 - 2-1" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  12. "Baggio ci porta in paradiso" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 14 July 1994. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  13. "Italy pay penalty for Germany stalemate". 6 October 2003. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  14. Robert Zitoli (26 November 2016). "What is in a name? Roberto… Gagliardini". Retrieved 20 December 2016.[permanent dead link]
  15. LICIA GRANELLO (18 June 1991). "LENTINI, L' ULTIMO ACQUISTO" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  16. "Donadoni, Roberto" (in Italian). Treccani: Enciclopedie on line. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  17. Alberto Costa. "DONADONI, Roberto" (in Italian). Treccani: Enciclopedia dello Sport. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  18. "TOP 10: I MIGLIORI GOL ROSSONERI SU PUNIZIONE" (in Italian). A.C. Milan. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  19. Giorgio Dell’Arti (29 January 2014). "Roberto Donadoni" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  20. Enrico Currò (24 January 1998). "Io, gregario di Ronaldo ripudiato dalla Roma" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  21. "The Serie A team of the 1980s". The Guardian. 4 July 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  22. "Lazio-Parma: numbers and curiosity". 30 November 2012. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013.
  23. "Nazionale, scelto l'erede di Lippi Donadoni è il nuovo ct degli azzurri" (in Italian). La Repubblica Sport. 13 July 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2008.
  24. Beleaguered Donadoni to turn to Totti[permanent dead link]
  25. (in Italian)
  26. – Italy – Totti Who? – Donadoni
  27. "Donadoni axed as Italy boss". Sky Sports. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  28. "Roberto Donadoni nuovo tecnico azzurro" (in Italian). SSC Napoli. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  29. "È Walter Mazzarri il nuovo allenatore" (in Italian). SSC Napoli. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  30. "Comunicato Stampa" (in Italian). Cagliari Calcio. 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  31. "Cagliari, esonerato Bisoli Cellino ingaggia Donadoni" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  32. "Comunicato della Società". Cagliari Calcio (in Italian). 12 August 2011. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  33. "Rottura con Cellino Esonerato Donadoni". La Repubblica (in Italian). 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  34. "Benvenuto mister Donadoni". Parma (in Italian). 9 January 2012. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  35. "Donadoni e il Parma, avanti insieme con entusiasmo". (in Italian). Parma F.C. 24 October 2012. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013.
  36. "Parma lose appeal for UEFA license [sic]". 29 May 2014.
  37. "Parma deducted one point for financial issues". FourFourTwo. Haymarket Group. 9 December 2014.
  38. Ben Gladwell (26 June 2015). "Roberto Donadoni rues 'huge injustice' at Parma". ESPN FC. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  39. "Donadoni: 'Bologna need anger'". Football Italia. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  40. "Official: Donadoni leaves Bologna". Football Italia. 24 May 2018.
  41. "UFFICIALE: Donadoni nuovo allenatore dello Shenzhen in Cina" (in Italian). Calciomercato. 30 July 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  42. "New York/New Jersey MetroStars 1996". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  43. "Premio Nazionale Carriera Esemplare Gaetano Scirea". (in Italian). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  44. "Il "Facchetti" a Donadoni. Succede a Francesco Totti". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 6 November 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  45. "Onoreficenze". (in Italian). 30 September 1991. Retrieved 19 March 2015.