Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus defender and Italy captain, announced his retirement at the end of the current season. The 36-year-old shared the news on the Juventus club YouTube channel, revealing that he will finish his playing career at the end of his contract which is due to expire next summer.
Expressing his gratitude for the journey he has embarked on, Bonucci stated, “It’s been a long and wonderful journey, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve played for some of Italy’s biggest clubs and won numerous trophies, but the most significant aspect has been the relationships I’ve built along the way. The memories shared and lifelong friendships made will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
Bonucci’s career began back in 2005 at Viterbo, where he spent two seasons before moving to Bari. His Serie A debut took place in 2008, and it didn’t take long for him to establish himself as one of the league’s top defenders, earning a spot in the Serie A Team of the Year in 2010.
The year 2010 marked his transfer to Juventus, with the club securing his services for €15 million. Since then, Bonucci has played a crucial role for Juventus, contributing to their triumphs in nine Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia titles, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. He also experienced victory in the UEFA Champions League in 2015 and the UEFA Europa League in 2022. Bonucci played a significant role in the €12.5 billion which was placed on sports betting during the 2022 UEFA Europa League, a huge sum when compared to NBA odds accumulating $4.9 billion (€4.48 billion) during the 2022 NBA finals.
On the international stage, Bonucci has represented Italy with distinction, earning 120 caps. Notably, he was part of the Italian squad that clinched the 2020 UEFA European Championship, where he was recognized as a member of the UEFA Team of the Tournament. He also participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Recognized as one of the finest defenders of his generation, Bonucci’s legacy stems from his leadership qualities, tactical acumen, and exceptional reading of the game. His adept passing skills and being comfortable playing from the back further solidify his reputation. The retirement of Bonucci will leave a significant void in Juventus and Italian football. His status as a true legend of the sport will be sorely missed by all those who have had the pleasure of seeing him play during his career.
Some notable accolades in Bonucci’s career include being a two-time Serie A Defender of the Year (2012, 2017), multiple appearances in the UEFA Team of the Year (2012, 2017, 2020), and a place in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2017. He is also a member of the esteemed Italian Football Hall of Fame.
Beyond his on-field achievements, Bonucci has made impactful contributions off the pitch as a vocal advocate for social justice. He has consistently condemned racism and discrimination, leveraging his platform to promote equality and inclusion. His actions have positioned him as a role model for aspiring young athletes and an inspiration to individuals worldwide.
While Bonucci’s retirement marks a sombre day for Italian football, it also serves as an opportunity to celebrate his remarkable career. His indelible mark on the sport and his status as one of Italy’s greatest defenders will forever be remembered.