Today would have been the 37th birthday of former Arsenal, Bologna and Italy defender Niccolo Galli, who died at the age of just 17.
The starlet was born in Florence on 22 May 1983, the firstborn son of ex-Fiorentina, Milan and Torino goalkeeper Giovanni Galli.
A towering presence at the back, standing at 1.88m, Galli was considered a complete talent, tipped to have a bright future in the game.
Galli joined Arsenal’s youth academy in the summer of 1999 and helped the Gunners win the FA Youth Cup in 2000.
He returned to Italy that summer, signing for Bologna on loan, moving so he could finish his studies.
Still only 17, he turned out for the Rossoblu’s first team, playing the final seven minutes of a 2-0 defeat to Roma on October 1.
Galli was also breaking through for Italy, having represented their Under-16, 17 and 18 sides.
However, his life was tragically cut short by a road accident on 10 February 2001, when he lost control of his moped, on his way home from training.
Bologna retired the No 27 jersey he wore for them as a result and named their training complex after him.
Fabio Quagliarella has also worn 27 throughout his career as a mark of respect for his fallen Azzurrini teammate.
“I have no doubt in my mind that had he lived, he would have been captain of Arsenal and of Italy,” ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger once remarked.
Image credit arsenal.com
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