Gianluca Zambrotta is one of the top names in Italian and international soccer of recent years. A member of the Italian national team that won the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2006, and was European runner-up in 2000, he is considered one of the best outfielders in the history of Italian football.
Zambrotta first began playing on the pitch of his home town, Como, and ended with Milan last season, after several years with Juventus and two championships with FC Barcelona. During his splendid career, Zambrotta has won the Italian championship three times (twice with Juventus and once with Milan), three Italian Supercups (twice with Juventus and once with Milan) and one Spanish Supercup, during his time with Barcelona. In 2006, after Italy’s victory in the World Cup in Germany, he was voted one of the world’s 23 best footballers in the All Star Team.
After such a successful career, Zambrotta is now preparing for a new life as a coach. Having just notched up a new professional triumph, attainment of a UEFA Pro licence (enabling him to become a coach at the highest levels of professional football), he still finds the time to cultivate his passion for the Vespa, a scooter he has always loved and collected.
Wide met Zambrotta at home, where, in a house full of souvenirs from his great sporting career, he also reveals a passion for Italian design and engines. The latest arrival is an electric Ape Calessino van. On the eve of a new career as a trainer, Zambrotta has become involved in another great venture: the construction of a sports centre in Como, offering competitive and non-competitive training in a variety of sports.
You’re one of the few sportsmen to have invested in sport, repaying what sport has given you with your experience. What led you to take on this entrepreneurial project, which is obviously inspired by your love of football?
“Without doubt, a desire to pass on my great passion for football, which has given me so much. I’d like to help give everyone an interest in sport, especially young people, as well as the not so young, because sport is an extraordinary school for life. I want to help everyone practice a sport, and I’ve decided to do this with a latest-generation sports centre in Como, the city where I was born, to be called the Eracle Sports Centre.”
Eracle Sports Center
Football underwent significant changes over the years you were playing. Both from a technical perspective – the way teams play has changed completely – and in terms of global popularity. Although many people think it’s just a huge business, what values can still be cultivated in children who are just beginning to play and dreaming perhaps of a future in the World Cup, which is what happened to you?
“You’re right, things have changed compared with years ago, but not just in football. Today the whole world is moving too fast. That makes it even more important to find a way to transmit the healthiest principles and the best values, which you find in sport. Friendship, respect for your opponent, willingness to make a sacrifice, fun, hard work, commitment, passion, a big heart, guts, determination, humility. I could go on and on, these are the values of people who are passionate about their sport.”
In your career, you’ve won everything there was to win, but I suspect the German World Cup has a special place in your heart…
“It’s the most important trophy in my career, the best, and emotionally the one that means the most to me. Winning with the shirt of a well-known club is marvellous, but winning with the colours of your national team is a unique sensation, even for a professional.”
That victory took Italy to the top of the world. And the world’s perception of our country stems from its excellences, from design, which you love, to sport. You’ve travelled the world wearing the Italian team shirt: what do you think lies at the root of this leadership?
“The passion and conviction we put into everything and the excellence and attention we pay to the smallest details. These values are part of our national character, and are acknowledged everywhere.”
Talking about Italian excellences, did you know that in America CNN has named the Vespa as one of the 12 best designs of the last 100 years. Does your passion for the Vespa come from your love of design?
“Yes of course. I think the Vespa is a real icon of Italian design, one of the most widely admired. It’s a timeless object, famous all over the world. When you say Vespa you say Italy, freedom, excellence, style, design. It’s a must: it would be difficult today not to have one, or at least want one!”
How many Vespa scooters do you have in your garage? Is there one you’re particularly fond of?
“I’ve had so many … I’ve got four at the moment. Two vintage models and two current models. As well as a limited edition electric of Ape Calessino. And when you’re riding along Lake Como, I have to say that the two vintage models are indispensable.”