Tuesday January 9 2018
Happy birthday, Rino Gattuso

Today is the 40th birthday of Milan Coach Rino Gattuso, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006.

The former midfielder was born in Corigliano Calabro near Cosenza in 1978, and began his career with Perugia.

After 10 appearances for the club, eight of which came in Serie A, he moved to Scotland to join Rangers at the age of 19 in 1997.

Gattuso made 40 appearances in all competitions, but the Gers ended the season trophyless, failing to win the league after nine-in-a-row.

Walter Smith left the club in the summer, and his replacement, Dick Advocaat used the Italian sparingly, often deploying him at right-back.

As a result, he returned to Italy in November 1998, joining Salernitana for a fee of 9 billion lire.

Nicknamed ‘Rino’ as a shortened version of his first name or ‘Ringhio’, meaning growl or snarl, Gattuso impressed with his tenacious midfield performances and earned a move to Milan in 1999.

While never the most technically gifted player - by his own admission - he immediately endeared himself to the San Siro crowd with his graft and commitment.

When Carlo Ancelotti joined the club in 2001, Gattuso quickly became a key part of the Rossoneri midfield, playing alongside Andrea Pirlo.

Their partnership is regarded as one of the best in modern football, with Gattuso doing the dirty work and allowing Pirlo to display his creativity.

“When I saw him play it made me think I had to change profession,” a self-effacing Gattuso said when Pirlo retired last year. “I played with him for about 20 years when you consider the national youth teams, in difficult moments I just gave it to him, I always felt assured when I was next to him.”

Carletto’s side is arguably the last great Milan one, and Gattuso was a key part of a team which won the Coppa Italia in 2003, the Scudetto in 2004 and the Champions League in both 2003 and 2007.

He also became a key player for the national team, once again being deployed alongside Pirlo to devastating effect in the 2006 World Cup.

After Daniele De Rossi’s red card against the USA, Ringhio played every match as the Azzurri went all the way to the final.

Gattuso played all 180 minutes in Berlin, with Italy triumphing over France on penalties to lift a first World Cup since 1982.

In August 2009 he made his 400th appearance for Milan, captaining the side in the opening match of the season against Siena.

The 2010-11 season brought another Scudetto, this time under Max Allegri, with Gattuso scoring two goals in his 31 Serie A games, having not scored in the previous two league campaigns.

However, in the opening game of the following season Rino strangely crashed into teammate Alessandro Nesta, and was substituted after 20 minutes.

Gattuso was later diagnosed with a sixth cranial nerve palsy, causing him to suffer from double vision - he simply hadn’t seen Nesta when he ran into him.

That kept Gattuso out until March, and he made only six Serie A appearances in that season, which would prove to be his last for the Diavolo.

Feeling he could no longer contribute as he once had, the midfielder opted not to renew his contract and left the club, as did Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf.

A return to Rangers was mooted, but the club collapsed into bankruptcy that summer so Gattuso instead joined FC Sion.

In February 2013 he was also appointed Coach of the Swiss club, before sharing the role with Arno Rossini, who had a UEFA Pro Licence.

The pair were relieved of their duties in May, and Gattuso returned to the pitch, but it would prove to be his final season as a player.

Gattuso retired with 586 professional club appearances to his name and 17 goals, winning two Scudetti and two Champions Leagues.

The midfielder was capped 73 times by Italy, scoring just once - in a friendly against England - but helping the Azzurri to the World Cup in 2006.

Following his retirement, he immediately took the job as Palermo Coach, but lasted just six Serie B games under the notoriously volatile Maurizio Zamparini.

A spell at OFI Crete followed, in which Gattuso twice resigned over financial issues, before he took Pisa to Serie B.

He once again resigned due to financial problems ahead of the 2016-17 season, but was convinced to return a month later.

Despite an excellent defensive record though, an inability to score and several points deductions for unpaid wages saw the Torre relegated.

Gattuso then returned to Milan, his spiritual home, where he took charge of the Primavera side.

However, when Vincenzo Montella was sacked in November last year, Ringhio was given the call to take charge of the first team.

His start has been patchy, with four wins in nine games, but no Milan fan can doubt his commitment to the Rossoneri cause.