Gianluca Pagliuca Biography

Mon 29 November 2021 | 20:29

He is one of the best Italian goalkeepers of all time and the second with most matches in Serie A behind Buffon. In this article, we will take a look at Gianluca Pagliuca biography.

Gianluca Pagliuca, born 18 December 1966 in


, is a former Italian goalkeeper who currently works for Sky Italia as a commentator. He was trained in the youth academy of Bologna, his hometown club. In Serie A, he has played for


, Internazionale, Bologna (the 2005-2006 season in Serie B, however) and Ascoli.

He is still the goalkeeper with the second most games in Serie A behind his name behind Gianluigi Buffon with 657 games. Furthermore, Paolo Maldini played more matches (646) at the highest Italian level.

Pagliuca also played for the Italian national team, making his debut on 16 June 1991 in the friendly against the Soviet Union (1-1), when he substituted Walter Zenga at half-time. Among other things, he participated in the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

During the group game against Norway, he committed a handball outside the penalty area. Because of this, he became the first goalkeeper ever to be sent off at a World Cup. In total, Pagliuca played 39 international matches. He retired after the 1998 World Cup in France.

All You Need to Know About Gianluca Pagliuca Biography

Pagliuca also played for his home country at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, which saw the Italian Olympic team, led by national coach Cesare Maldini, knocked out on the group stage. In addition to Massimo Crippa and Marco Branca, he was one of three exceptions in the selection.

Gianluca Pagliuca Information

Now that we know the Italian footballer much better, in this section of

Gianluca Pagliuca biography

we will share more general information about him such as

Gianluca Pagliuca nationality

to let you know him even better.

Gianluca Pagliuca Bio

  • Full Name: Gianluca Pagliuca

  • Nickname: The Wall

  • Profession: Professional Footballer

Gianluca Pagliuca Physical Stats

  • Weight: 85 Kg

  • Height: 1.9 m

  • Eye Color: Brown

  • Hair Color: Dark Brown

Gianluca Pagliuca Football Information

  • Position: Goalkeeper

  • Jersey Number: 1

  • Professional Debut: 1987

Gianluca Pagliuca Date of Birth and Personal Info

  • Date of Birth: 18 December 1966

  • Birth Place: Bologna, Italy

  • Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

  • Nationality: Italian

Now stay tuned to this section of

Gianluca Pagliuca biography

as we want to share some info about

Gianluca Pagliuca childhood


Gianluca Pagliuca Early Life

Born in Bologna in 1966, he made his first steps as a player in the Polisportiva Ceretolese, where he played as a midfielder, striker and, sometimes, as a goalkeeper; when he was around 13 years old he began to play permanently in goal, and then after a year in Casteldebole he pursued his youth career in Bologna, where he arrived in 1982 on the recommendation of Pietro Battara.


His professional career started at Sampdoria of Genoa, under the direction of the eccentric Serbian coach Vujadin Boskov, who immediately put his trust in him, appointing him to the starting line-up in his second season at the club, although he was only 22 years old. The 22-year-old immediately justified his coach's confidence by becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Italian league, along with Inter's Zenga and Tacconi from Turin.

Having been promoted to the first team by Vujadin Boškov, his admirer, Pagliuca won the

Coppa Italia

again in the following two years (1988-1989) and also reached the final of the Cup Winners' Cup twice in a row: being defeated 2-0 by Barcelona in the 1989-1990 edition, the following year Sampdoria won the trophy for the first time in its history, by defeating Anderlecht with the same result. Thanks to the two Coppa Italia victories, Sampdoria also participated in two Italian Super Cup finals (1988 and 1989), which they lost to AC Milan and Inter respectively.

Sampdoria won the 1990-91 Serie A title as an outsider, a year that saw Pagliuca the star of many decisive actions: in particular, the penalty saved against Lothar Matthäus in the victorious away match against Inter, where the goalkeeper saved the result several times.

His save against Matthäus' penalty reinforced Pagliuca's reputation as a goal-stopper, one he had started to build up in the previous months, as he had saved one against


in the course of the game and three against Torino after extra time in the Coppa Italia. Pagliuca's performance during the season brought him the 6th position in the IFFHS ranking of the best goalkeepers of 1991, his nomination for the Ballon d'Or (21st place) and his first appearance in the national team.

During the 1991-1992 season, that began with the first Italian Super Cup victory in its history, Sampdoria also participated for the first time in the European Cup, which was in its last edition before being renamed the UEFA Champions League: Pagliuca and the club's debut in the top European competition occurred on 18 September 1991 during the 5-0 win against


. Back-to-back victories against Anderlecht of Belgium and Red Star guaranteed Sampdoria a place at the top of the group, and they went on to reach the Wembley final against Barcelona, where they lost 1-0.

The match, for a long time, was 0-0 thanks also to the prowess of Pagliuca, was decided in extra time by a Ronald Koeman's free-kick: this goal aroused some questions about the real responsibilities of the players in the barrier and of the goalkeeper, who was hit on his own post but partly exonerated by the remarkable power of the shot, which made the ball move at a speed of about 112 km/h.

In the 1992-93 season, Pagliuca was then called to test himself with the new regulations in which it was introduced the prohibition for goalkeepers to pick up the ball with their hands if a teammate voluntarily passed: this change will cause difficulties for the defenders less accustomed to playing with their feet.

In the summer Pagliuca, who had said he was prepared to adapt to both the new regulations and the zone defence of new coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, was back to offer high levels of performance, with a more modern and unprejudiced interpretation of his role, establishing himself among the best number ones in

Serie A

and defeating the competition of Luca Marchegiani for the starting place in the national team; His season ended prematurely, however, following a serious car accident in May 1993, resulting in a fractured collarbone and a pneumothorax.

Gianluca Pagliuca Profile

He was back in time for the start of the 1993-1994 season, and finished his career with Sampdoria after contributing to the victory of a third Coppa Italia: being decisive in the penalty shoot-out against


and Roma, with a total of five penalties saved, he was among the best players in the semi-final against Parma and in the first leg final against Ancona.

In his last season with Sampdoria, after which he played the 1994 World Cup as a starter with


, he earned another 6th place in the list of the best goalkeepers of the year compiled by the IFFHS. Now stay tuned to this section of Gianluca Pagliuca biography as we want to share some info about

Inter Milan


Inter Milan

He was wanted by Ottavio Bianchi and Ernesto Pellegrini, and moved to Inter for the 1994-95 season, initially reluctantly and after a long negotiation: Sampdoria received 8 billion lire plus Walter Zenga and Riccardo Ferri, amounting to a total of about 12 billion lire.

Pagliuca played his debut in the Nerazzurri shirt on 22 August 1994, in a 3-0 win over Lodigiani in the Coppa Italia. The goalkeeper was able to do the job, offering excellent performances, although the team's season was dull.

The club was knocked out of the UEFA Cup in September, defeated by Aston Villa on penalties despite Pagliuca's save on Guy Whittingham's shot; with the disappointing results, president Pellegrini passed the baton to Massimo Moratti. Their sixth place in Serie A, achieved on the last day, was however worth qualifying for the next UEFA Cup.

Inter were more successful in the 1996-1997 season: with the arrival of Youri Djorkaeff and Iván Zamorano in the offensive department, they fought with Parma in Serie A for second place behind Juventus, guaranteeing them access to the 1997-1998 Champions League.

Once again semi-finalist in the Coppa Italia, Inter also made it to the final of the UEFA Cup, only to be defeated on both occasions by Napoli and Schalke 04 in the penalty shoot-outs: in these occasions, all the opponents' penalty takers were able to beat Pagliuca.

Named to act as sweeper-keeper behind Hodgson's zone defence, he performed very well both in Europe, where he led the team along with striker Maurizio Ganz and in Serie A, where he achieved the highest average rating in the league - tied with Angelo Peruzzi and Lilian Thuram - and received the Guerin d'oro; his excellent form also brought him a return to the national team and he was nominated for the title of Best Goalkeeper AIC and the Ballon d'Or.

Under Luigi Simoni, the new coach, Inter was at the starting line of the 1997-1998 season with the arrival of Ronaldo and a renewed squad in all departments. With the exception of a shocking knockout in the Coppa Italia at the hands of Milan, the team played its best season of the 1990s, fighting a long duel with Juventus to win the Scudetto, which ended in the return match between the two clubs.

In spite of a penalty saved by Pagliuca against Alessandro Del Piero, Inter were defeated 1-0 on 26 April 1998, in a match marked by the famous clash in the Juventus box between Mark Iuliano and Ronaldo, which was judged regular by referee Piero Ceccarini and was the source of heated controversy. This defeat effectively ended Inter's ambitions of success, but their second place in the table was still worth the access to the next edition of the Champions League.

As a member of the least beaten defence in Serie A, he was the best goalkeeper in the league according to the La Gazzetta dello Sport report cards. With their number one still on the shield, Inter were able to reach the UEFA Cup final for the second year in a row and they won the competition on 6 May, defeating Lazio 3-0 at the Parc des Princes.

Pagliuca lifted the only trophy won during his time in Milan as captain. Sealing his excellent performances, and after having in the meantime disputed an excellent 1998 World Cup with the national team, he was nominated for the second time in a row for the award of Best Goalkeeper AIC and the Golden Ball, also getting the 5th place in the IFFHS ranking of the best goalkeepers of the year.

Pagliuca made his Champions League debut in the 1998-1999 season, appearing in the 4-0 win against Skonto on 12 August 1998, in the second preliminary round match. Inter's season, despite the significant signing of Roberto Baggio, failed to live up to expectations.

The uncertain start in the league and a game that was considered unconvincing caused the dismissal of Simoni after 11 matches, while Inter had secured the qualification to the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a major victory over Real Madrid a few days earlier.

Managed, successively, by three other coaches (Lucescu, Castellini and Hodgson), the team slumped into a long crisis that had an impact on the serenity of the team, eventually influencing the performance of Pagliuca, which was less brilliant than in previous seasons. A disappointing eighth-place finish in Serie A was somewhat compensated by reaching the semifinals of the Coppa Italia, which enabled Inter to stay in the running for Europe.

Even though his performances were one of the best of the team, the possibility of a non-reconfirmation of the goalkeeper, aired for months and it was confirmed at the end of the season: in the perspective of a deep renovation of the roster, assigned to Marcello Lippi, the goalkeeper Pagliuca unwillingly left the club after making 165 league appearances (162 of which were consecutive) and 234 among all competitions, and was replaced by Angelo Peruzzi among the Nerazzurri posts.

His performances in the Milan derbies were outstanding: with him as a goalkeeper, Inter never lost any of the 10 league challenges they played against

AC Milan

from 1994 to 1999; his save on a close shot by Oliver Bierhoff in the derby on 8 November 1998 is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the history of Italian football.

Now stay tuned to this section of

Gianluca Pagliuca biography

as we want to share some info about his Bologna career.


Having left Inter, 'Il Gatto di Casalecchio', as he was known locally, went back home to play 7 years with Bologna. He experienced many exciting moments with Bologna, all of them as an undisputed starter, going from the positive ones of reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1999/00, to the extremely negative ones of being relegated to Serie B in the 2004/05 season.

During his time in Emilia, there were also difficult moments with opposing fans, who started to target him. At the start of the second half of the Coppa Italia match between Sampdoria and Bologna in Genoa on 12 October 1999, with Bologna leading 1-0, the ultras in the south stand started bombarding the former star with all sorts of objects: oranges, flagpoles, cans and even taps rained down on the pitch.

The referees Rosetti and Paparesta tried to continue the match, but when they saw how intense the atmosphere in the stands was, they called it off. The match was suspended for good and Bologna won 2-0 and the Blucerchiati's ground was disqualified for six games.

The goalkeeper had another unpleasant situation in April 2001 in Parma. The ultras of the ducal team, as well as the usual objects, threw glasses full of earthworms and other maggots at him. He was accused of spitting on a Gialloblù scarf that was hanging from the net, although he denied it: "It's not true, I didn't do anything bad. It's not nice to play with worms crawling under your shirt."

Pagliuca was always ready to put his face to the name, and remained with Bologna in Serie B for the love of the shirt, making a total of 269 appearances before his last adventure in the top league with




After the experience at Bologna, Pagliuca joined Ascoli, returning to the top flight at the age of 40. He debuted on 19 August 2006 in the away 6-0 win over Cervia, which was valid for the first preliminary round of the Coppa Italia. On the second day of the league, on 17 September, he reached 571 appearances in Serie A by playing against


: in doing so he overtook Dino Zoff and became the goalkeeper with more appearances in the Italian league.

He later extended his streak of consecutive matches up to 247 games, before being stopped by back problems; he was later struck by a flu virus before the match against Livorno, valid for the 25th day, and when recovered never found a place in the team. By the end of the season, Ascoli ranked 19th, relegating to Serie B.

Pagliuca ended his career after his contract with Ascoli had expired, where he played 23 league matches, after making 592 appearances in Serie A, which placed him second behind Paolo Maldini at the time of his retirement; Pagliuca would remain first among goalkeepers until 2016, being surpassed by Gianluigi Buffon. As he had played his last game on 18 February 2007, Pagliuca is also among the circle of footballers who were able to take to the field in Serie A at the age of 40.

Italy National Team

Thanks to his excellent performances, he was called up as the third goalkeeper for the Azzurri, which competed at the 1990 World Cup on home soil and finished third. However, he failed to play any matches for his country. Later on, he had established himself as one of the best Serie A goalkeepers and it was then that the 'Cat of Casalecchio' wore the Italian national team shirt for the first time in a friendly against the USSR in June 1991.

Besides the number of games played in Serie A, Gianluca has another significant, but much less glorious record. During a group match against


at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, Pagliuca became the first goalkeeper to be sent off at a World Cup.

However, he had a fantastic tournament and was instrumental throughout, especially in the quarter-final against


. He was the star of one of the most memorable moments in Italian football in the final, a moment that will live long in the minds of the Tifosi.

Following Romario's shot that hit the right-hand post of his goal, Pagliuca stood up slowly, breathed a big sigh of relief and kissed his post in thanks for saving it. The Italian way of romance. However, it was not enough to prevent Italy from losing the first World Cup final to the Seleçao on penalties. The mistake of Roberto Baggio would put an end to the dreams of glory of Pagliuca and 60 million Italians.

At France 98, Pagliuca was still in the starting line-up and performed well at another World Cup. However, once again, the Squadra was knocked out on penalties, this time by the eventual winners France. He retired from international football the day after Italy's elimination, making way for the rise of Gianluigi Buffon and Francesco Toldo.

Now stay tuned to this section of Gianluca Pagliuca biography as we want to share some info about his playing style.

Style of Play

He was an energetic and athletic goalkeeper, strong and technically complete, Pagliuca was outstanding for his ability between the posts, where he displayed his best acrobatic skills, reflexes and positioning He was one of the world's most skilled penalty takers of his era.

Some of his other strengths included his good ball control, enabling him to take chances on dribbles when necessary, and his powerful and precise return with his left foot - "like a South American goalkeeper" - which made up for some inadequacies when using his right foot.

He was part of the classic man-to-man defence in Vujadin Boškov's Sampdoria, and in Sven-Göran Eriksson's zone defence he functioned as an "extra libero", who was also permitted to move outside the penalty area to anticipate the opposing attacker or take free kicks which were whistled inside his own penalty area.

It was this modern interpretation of the role, which was the result of a previously displayed offensive orientation, that enabled him to avoid enduring the tactical and regulatory innovations of the early 1990s, also facilitating his rise to number one in Arrigo Sacchi's national team.


According to many fans and pundits, Gianluca Pagliuca is one of the best Italian goalkeepers of his generation and if it wasn’t for a special talent like Buffon, he could’ve achieved much more in the Italian national football team.

Gianluca Pagliuca outside Football

Other than football, which is his first sport, Gianluca Pagliuca is also a devoted basketball enthusiast, he is also a member of the Virtus Foundation, which purchased Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna basketball club in 2012.

After his retirement from playing football, he started a career as a commentator for Sky and Mediaset Premium. In addition, he played as a goalkeeper in the Italian national beach soccer team.

Gianluca Pagliuca Personal Life

In this section of Gianluca Pagliuca biography, we will take a deeper look into his personal life and share some information about things like

Gianluca Pagliuca life story


Gianluca Pagliuca religion

, stay tuned.

Family, Children and Relationships

Gianluca has been married to his wife Aurora for a long time and has a son named Mattia. Mattia Pagliuca was born in Bologna on 25 April 2002, while his father Gianluca was still a goalkeeper. However, unlike his father, he demonstrated from an early age that he was more suited to scoring goals than avoiding them.

In fact, Mattia is a striker with a good physique and technique, allowing him to move all over the offensive front without too many problems and to be used as a trequartista or outside player in a three-pronged attack. He has been a red-blue player from an early age, as he grew up in Bologna's youth sector.

He lost his mother Maria Rosa in 2017, who died of an incurable disease when she was 74 years old. She was the one who had always been by his side in every moment of his career and life.


Gianluca Pagliuca had been active in many charity projects during his long football career and we’ve seen him play in different charity football matches.

Legal Issues

There are not any reports of legal issues or disputes regarding the famous Italian goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca either on the English or Italian media at the time of writing this article.

Gianluca Pagliuca Career Statistics

In this section of Gianluca Pagliuca biography, we will take a look at his career stats on the international and club level.


From the start of his career in the 1986-87 season to the day he retired from football during the 2006-07 season, Gianluca Pagliuca played a total of 806 matches in all competitions for different Italian clubs.


Between 1991 and 1998 Gianluca Pagliuca played a total of 39 matches for the Italian national team, taking part in three different World Cups.

Gianluca Pagliuca Honors

He has won many trophies during his career including the Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup with Sampdoria and Inter Milan. He also finished runner-up with the Italian national team in the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

The list of Pagliuca’s individual awards includes Internazionale Player Of The Year and Guerin d'Oro.

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