Full name: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Date of birth: 25 February 1999
Place of birth: Castellammare di Stabia, Italy
Height: 1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)
National team: Italy
Agent: Mino Raiola
Joined: 01 July 2015
Contract until: 30.06.2021
Gianluigi Donnarumma is an Italian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Serie A club Milan and the Italy national team.
Donnarumma was born in Castellammare di Stabia in the Province of Naples, the son of Alfonso and Marinella. His older brother, Antonio, also came through Milan’s youth system as a goalkeeper, and is currently his teammate as well. Since childhood, he has supported Milan, although he grew up idolising Gianluigi Buffon.
He began his career with Milan in 2015, becoming the second-youngest goalkeeper ever to debut in Serie A, aged 16 years and 242 days. Donnarumma immediately broke into the starting line-up, earning a reputation as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the world. He also broke the record as the youngest Italy under-21 player ever to play, aged 17 years and 28 days in March 2016. Six months later, he made his senior international debut, becoming the youngest goalkeeper ever to appear for Italy, aged 17 years and 189 days.
AC Milan career
Donnarumma grew up in the football academy of Club Napoli in his native Castellammare di Stabia. At age 14, he was signed for €250,000 by Milan, the team for which his elder brother, Antonio, had already played. Between 2013 and 2015, he was part of the Rossoneri youth academy, where he always played in the age group above him, beginning with the Giovanissimi, then the Allievi, and finally the Primavera. Three days before his 16th birthday, in February 2015, he received his first call-up to the senior team from manager Filippo Inzaghi. Though he did not feature in the league match against Cesena, his presence on the substitutes’ bench had required a special dispensation due to his age.
At the beginning of the 2015–16 season, Gianluigi Donnarumma was promoted to the senior team by manager Siniša Mihajlović, initially as the third-choice goalkeeper behind Diego López and Christian Abbiati. During Milan’s pre-season tour of China, he made his debut in an International Champions Cup match against Real Madrid on 30 July. Replacing López in the 72nd minute, he kept a clean sheet for the remainder of the match, but was one of two Milan players to miss his penalty shootout attempt in an eventual 10–9 loss. His subsequent starting appearance against Sassuolo in the final of the TIM Trophy saw him save two penalties in the shootout to secure Milan’s victory.
Donnarumma made his competitive debut in Serie A on 25 October against Sassuolo at the San Siro stadium; chosen to start ahead of López, he helped the team achieve a 2–1 victory after three matches without a win. At the age of 16 years and 242 days, he was the second-youngest goalkeeper to start a match in the history of Italian football, 13 days older than Giuseppe Sacchi, who coincidentally made his Serie A debut with Milan on the very same date, 73 years earlier. López subsequently hailed him as “the future of Milan and of Italian football”. Gianluigi Donnarumma kept his first clean sheet three days later in a 1–0 win against Chievo. After three successive victories featuring Gianluigi Donnarumma in the starting line-up, Milan avoided a defeat against Atalanta as a result of an impressive display from their goalkeeper, “Donnarumma worked miracles,” commented the Gazzetta dello Sport. His performances that year earned him a place among the top 25 of Don Balón’s ranking of the world’s best footballers under age 21.
By the start of 2016, Gianluigi Donnarumma had firmly supplanted López as the first-choice goalkeeper for Milan, who subsequently offered him a revised, three-year contract. His first appearance in the Derby della Madonnina, Milan’s crosstown rivalry with Internazionale, came on 31 January; the clash ended in a 3–0 victory after he stopped Éder from scoring. In March, he was briefly hospitalised after suffering a head injury in an on-pitch collision with Chievo’s Fabrizio Cacciatore. Donnarumma featured ahead of Abbiati in Milan’s 1–0 defeat to Juventus in the Coppa Italia Final, as the club failed to qualify for European competition at the end of the season.
In the club’s opening league match of the 2016–17 season against Torino, on 21 August, Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the first penalty of his professional career, he stopped Andrea Belotti’s shot in injury time, which enabled Milan to seal a 3–2 victory at home. He kept his first clean sheet of the season in the 1–0 victory against Sampdoria on 16 September. On 23 December, Donnarumma helped lead Milan to victory in the Supercoppa Italiana, saving Paulo Dybala’s penalty in a 4–3 shoot-out win following a 1–1 draw after extra time. On 15 June 2017 it was initially announced that Gianluigi Donnarumma would not be renewing his contract with Milan, however on 11 July, after much speculation, he renewed with Milan until 2021.
Gianluigi Donnarumma played his first European game in a 1–0 win against CS U Craiova in the first leg of Milan’s Europa League qualification match on 27 July 2017, in which he managed to keep a clean sheet. He also kept another clean sheet in the second leg the following week, as Milan beat their opponent 2–0. He kept his third concecutive clean sheet in Milan’s 6–0 win against Shkëndija. He kept another clean sheet in his first match in new Serie A season against Crotone. On 30 December 2017, Donnarumma played his 100th game for Milan in a 1–1 draw against Fiorentina, becoming the youngest player to make 100 appearances with Milan’s jersey. On 15 April 2018, Gianluigi Donnarumma became the youngest player to reach 100 appearances in Serie A, aged 19 years and 49 days, after a 0–0 home draw against Napoli.
Donnarumma was the starting goalkeeper for Italy’s under-17 team at the 2015 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The following year on 24 March, he made his debut for the under-21 side in a 4–1 win over the Republic of Ireland, becoming the youngest player ever to play for the team aged 17 years and 28 days, breaking the record previously held by Federico Bonazzoli.
Though predicted to attend the 2016 UEFA European Championship, Donnarumma did not make Antonio Conte’s final squad for the tournament. On 27 August, he was called up to the senior squad by Gian Piero Ventura for a friendly against France on 1 September and a 2018 World Cup qualification match on 5 September against Israel, making him the youngest player, aged 17 years and six months, to be called up to the senior squad since 1911. On 1 September, in the match against France, Gianluigi Donnarumma made his senior debut, subbing out Buffon at the half-time mark of an eventual 3–1 home loss, the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for Italy aged 17 years and 189 days. On 28 March 2017, he made his first starting appearance in a 2–1 away win over the Netherlands; the youngest goalkeeper for Italy to do so aged 18 years and 31 days.
In June 2017, he was included in the Italy under-21 squad for the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship by manager Luigi Di Biagio.
Long considered one of Italy’s most exciting prospects, and one of the most promising young footballers of his generation, Gianluigi Donnarumma is widely regarded as the successor to Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon himself has in turn praised the teenager’s physical strength and technical abilities, mental composure and decision making. Predicting an “extraordinary career” in his future, he commended Donnarumma’s maturity and ability to cope with the pressures of being a goalkeeper at such a young age. Another of Italy’s World Cup-winning goalkeepers, Dino Zoff, similarly said Donnarumma seems “predestined to become a great goalkeeper,” adding that “it all depends completely on him.” Former Milan and Italy goalkeeper Giovanni Galli also described Donnarumma as a potentially world-class goalkeeper, applauding him for his discipline, intelligence, concentration, and professionalism, despite his young age.
A 2015 ESPN profile praised Donnarumma’s fundamental goalkeeping skills, identifying his large slender frame and reach, agility, and composed nature as his biggest strengths; writer Nick Dorrington additionally described the teenager as “a natural leader [with] the necessary confidence to organise a defence featuring players twice his age.” Despite his tall and imposing stature, Gianluigi Donnarumma possesses good reactions, and is effective at stopping penalties. Although he is regarded as being competent with the ball at his feet, several pundits, such as Mina Rzouki and Paolo Menicucci, have cited his ball control and distribution, as well as his positioning, ability to defend crosses, and his overall consistency, as areas in which he needs to improve as he gains more experience.