Roberto Donadoni

Roberto Donadoni
Personal information
Date of birth (1963-09-09) 9 September 1963
Place of birth Cisano Bergamasco, Italy
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Bologna (manager)
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 Ittihad 15 (0)
Total 445 (29)
National team
1984–1986 Italy U21 13 (1)
1986–1996 Italy 63 (5)
Teams managed
2001–2002 Lecco
2002–2003 Livorno
2003 Genoa
2004–2006 Livorno
2006–2008 Italy
2009 Napoli
2010–2011 Cagliari
2012–2015 Parma
2015– Bologna

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

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

A complete, versatile, and hard-working winger, known for his pace, stamina, offensive capabilities, distribution, and technical skills,[1] he began his career with Atalanta, and he later became a pillar of the powerhouse A.C. Milan team of the late 1980s and early 1990s, 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 80s 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 Italian national team, succeeding Marcello Lippi, who resigned after having won the 2006 FIFA World Cup. At the Euro 2008 campaign, 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 subsequently 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 Marcello Lippi who returned as national team manager. Following his position as Italy's head coach, he managed Napoli, Cagliari, and Parma, until the club's bankruptcy in 2015; he subsequently joined Bologna the following season.

Club career

Roberto Donadoni with Milan during the 1986–87 season.

Donadoni started his career with Atalanta in 1982, winning the Serie C1 title, and the Serie B title in 1984. He transferred to A.C. Milan in 1986 and he became a mainstay in the legendary team that dominated Italy and Europe in the late 80s and early to mid 90s. Usually playing a right-sided wide midfield role, Donadoni was a vital part of Milan's squad under both Sacchi and Capello, winning six Serie A titles, three European Cups, four Italian Supercups, 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.[2][3]

He came close to being one of a handful of players to ever die on-field, during the 1989–90 European Cup campaign. Donadoni had his life saved only through the quick-thinking of the opposing team's (Red Star Belgrade) 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.[3]

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 the MLS in the United States. The NY/NJ MetroStars of Major League Soccer 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 Italian 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.[4] Unfortunately, Donadoni's play could not bring the MetroStars any success as a club. In total, Donadoni scored six goals for the MetroStars.[3]

He went briefly back to Milan after the 1997 MLS season, and promptly helped them to another Coppa Italia final in 1998, during Fabio Capello's second spell with the club, as well as 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.[2][3]

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.[3]

International career

A member of the Italy under-21 national football team, reaching the final of the 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Donadoni made his Italian 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.[5] Overall, he made 5 appearances throughout the tournament, missing out on the round of 16 victory against Uruguay due to injury,[6] and the bronze-medal match victory against England.[7]

Donadoni also took part at the 1994 FIFA World Cup, under Arrigo Sacchi, helping Italy to a second place finish, where Italy would once again be defeated on penalties, by Brazil; on this occasion, however, Donadoni did not take a penalty in the final shoot-out.[8] En-route to the final, he set up Dino Baggio's goal in Italy's 2–1 quarter-final victory over Spain,[9] 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.[10][11] He also represented Italy at Euro 96, 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.[12] Overall, Donadoni made 63 appearances for Italy, scoring 5 goals.[3][7]

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 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 player, who was an important member of his club and national sides throughout his career, he stood out for his pace, agility, and his outstanding technical ability; his acceleration, control, dribbling skills, and creativity allowed him to beat players with feints 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, as well as his vision and distribution. Donadoni possessed a unique capability to deliver assists to team-mates in the area from accurate curling crosses and set-pieces; he was also a powerful and accurate striker of the ball from distance with both feet, despite being naturally right footed.[1][2][3] Michel Platini described him as Italy's greatest player of the 90s.[13]

Managerial career

Early club career

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.[14] 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

On July 2006, following the resignation of Marcello Lippi immediately after the Italian national team won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Donadoni was named as new Italian head coach, his first task being to successfully lead the fresh World Champions through qualification for Euro 2008.

On 16 August, Donadoni made his debut as head coach for the Italian national team in a friendly match against Croatia played at Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno which did not feature any of the 23 World Champions, excepting third goalkeeper Marco Amelia, and ended in a 2–0 defeat.

Path to Euro 2008

Donadoni's "real" debut came in the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers; Donadoni took solace in the fact that Lippi's first match in charge of the Azzurri resulted in defeat to Iceland in a friendly match. Despite this, the Italian media did not express discomfort after the following two matches were deemed as negative results: a home 1–1 draw with Lithuania, followed by a 3–1 defeat against France.

Italian newspaper La Nazione's front page featured "How to reduce Lippi's masterwork to pieces in just three weeks,"[15] requesting the return of former coach Marcello 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.[16] 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 AS Roma star, Donadoni jokingly claimed not to know him.[17]

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 team-mate Marco van Basten: a 3–0 loss to the Netherlands. The Italian captain and winner of the Ballon d'Or, Fabio Cannavaro, was unable to play due to injury. Donadoni was widely criticised for his choice of players for that 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 beat France 2–0 on 17 June to progress to the quarter-finals against a much-fancied Spanish team. The two teams played out a 0–0 draw, Italy being the only team to hold eventual Euro Cup winners Spain scoreless in regular time. However, the Spaniards won 4–2 on penalties. On 26 June 2008, he was sacked as the Italian coach after the Italian Football Federation terminated his contract because of the Azzuri's disappointing performance in the Euro 2008.[18]

The Italian Football Federation later replaced Donadoni and re-appointed Marcello Lippi as coach.


On 10 March 2009, Napoli officially announced to have sacked veteran head coach Edoardo Reja after five years at the helm of the team, and also confirming to have appointed Donadoni as his replacement.[19] His first match in charge against Reggina ended in a 1–1 draw.

After a 2–1 loss to Roma on 6 October 2009 he was relieved of his duties as Napoli manager and replaced by former Sampdoria coach, Walter Mazzarri.[20]


On 16 November 2010 it was revealed Donadoni would take over as head coach of Serie A relegation battlers Cagliari, replacing dismissed boss Pierpaolo Bisoli.[21][22] After becoming the coach of the Cagliari, Donadoni immediately achieves two victories with his new team: on 21 November to Brescia (1–2 final result) and on 28 November against the Lecce (3–2 at the end of the match).

On 12 August 2011, two weeks before the new season kick-off, he was surprisingly sacked by chairman Massimo Cellino.[23] 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.[24]

He was in talks with Iran Pro League side, Persepolis in December 2011.


On 9 January 2012, Donadoni was unveiled as head coach of Serie A club Parma, replacing Franco Colomba.[25] When he arrived at the club, the situation in the league table was critical for Parma, being close to the relegation zone. With him managing the team the results improved immediately. Parma managed to achieve its own record – seven wins in a row in Serie A. At the end of the season Parma finished eighth in the table with equal points as the team that finished 7th – Roma. His initial deal ran until 2013, but this was extended by two years in October 2012. It was the longest deal that president Tommaso Ghirardi had signed with a head coach. At the end of the 2012–13 season, Parma impressed and finished in a comfortable 10th place, despite initial fears that they would be relegated.[26] In 2014, Donadoni guided Parma to sixth in Serie A, helping the club to qualify for the UEFA Europa League for the first time since 2007; their entry to the tournament was barred, however, due to the late payment of income tax on salaries, not qualifying for a UEFA license, for which the club would also be docked 7 points during the 2014–15 Serie A season.[27][28] The following season, Parma's continuing severe financial difficulties led to the club's eventual bankruptcy in March 2015, which meant that the club would ultimately face relegation; although the Italian football federation 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.[29]


In October 2015, Donadoni was hired by newly promoted Serie A club Bologna as the club's new coach, as a replacement for the club's recently sacked former manager Delio Rossi.[30]






Italy national football team[3]



5th Class/Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 1991[34]

Managerial statistics

As of 1 December 2016
Team Nat From To Record
Lecco Italy June 2001 June 2002 25 9 8 8 36.00
Livorno Italy June 2002 June 2003 41 14 13 14 34.15
Genoa Italy June 2003 August 2003 6 1 1 4 16.67
Livorno Italy January 2005 February 2006 46 17 16 13 36.96
Italy Italy 13 July 2006 26 June 2008 23 13 5 5 56.52
Napoli Italy 10 March 2009 16 October 2009 19 5 6 8 26.32
Cagliari Italy 16 November 2010 12 August 2011 27 10 4 13 37.04
Parma Italy 9 January 2012 31 May 2015 141 47 39 55 33.33
Bologna Italy 30 October 2015 Present 44 15 13 16 34.09
Total 372 131 105 136 35.22


  1. 1 2 "Sconcerti: "Donadoni era un giocatore completo, ora è un eccellente allenatore". (in Italian). Retrieved 11 September 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). A.C. Milan. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 "All-Star Game flashback, 1996: East wins inaugural event". MLS Soccer. 12 July 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  5. "La notte degli errori" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  6. "Un Serena per amico" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  7. 1 2 "Nazionale in cifre: Roberto Donadoni". (in Italian). FIGC. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  8. Gianni Mura (18 July 1994). "Sconfitti, a testa alta" (in Italian). La Repubblica. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  9. Giancarlo Padovan (10 July 1994). "Spagna Adios, l'Italia avanza" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  10. "Italia-Bulgaria, Coppa del Mondo USA 1994 - 2-1" (in Italian). Storie di Calcio. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  11. "Baggio ci porta in paradiso" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. 14 July 1994. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  12. "Italy pay penalty for Germany stalemate". 6 October 2003. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  13. Giorgio Dell’Arti (29 January 2014). "Roberto Donadoni" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  14. "Lazio-Parma: numbers and curiosity". 30 November 2012.
  15. Beleaguered Donadoni to turn to Totti
  16. (Italian)
  17. – Italy – Totti Who? – Donadoni
  18. "Donadoni axed as Italy boss". Sky Sports. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
  19. "Roberto Donadoni nuovo tecnico azzurro" (in Italian). SSC Napoli. 10 March 2009. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  20. "È Walter Mazzarri il nuovo allenatore" (in Italian). SSC Napoli. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2009.
  21. "Comunicato Stampa" (in Italian). Cagliari Calcio. 15 November 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  22. "Cagliari, esonerato Bisoli Cellino ingaggia Donadoni" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 16 November 2010.
  23. "Comunicato della Società". Cagliari Calcio (in Italian). 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  24. "Rottura con Cellino Esonerato Donadoni". La Repubblica (in Italian). 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  25. "Benvenuto mister Donadoni". Parma F.C. (in Italian). 9 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  26. "Donadoni e il Parma, avanti insieme con entusiasmo". (in Italian). Parma F.C. 24 October 2012.
  27. "Parma lose appeal for UEFA license [sic]". 29 May 2014.
  28. "Parma deducted one point for financial issues". FourFourTwo. Haymarket Group. 9 December 2014.
  29. Ben Gladwell (26 June 2015). "Roberto Donadoni rues 'huge injustice' at Parma". ESPN FC. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  30. "Donadoni: 'Bologna need anger'". Football Italia. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  31. "New York/New Jersey MetroStars 1996". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  32. "Premio Nazionale Carriera Esemplare Gaetano Scirea". (in Italian). Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  33. "Il "Facchetti" a Donadoni. Succede a Francesco Totti". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 6 November 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  34. "Onoreficenze". (in Italian). 30 September 1991. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
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