I'm a lucky guy. I've realized my life's dream. My biggest passion has become my job. For me football has always been enjoyable and it still is today. I'm a real Fiorentino, born in the Fiesole Hospital on December 1st 1985. When I was a kid I was extremely lively, maybe because of the survival instinct towards my big brothers. My childhood was in Borgo Peretola, a neighbourhood in Florence, and here I grew up and started to play on a little pitch close to my house. When I was a kid I felt like a forward and I used to play as a forward in my team, Firenze Ovest (West Florence). Then one day the goalkeeper didn't show up and I had to replace him. Once I was so angry that I sat down in the middle of the goal and let the opponents score. However, I learnt to love my new position over time. Both the goalkeeper and the forward are positions that have always attracted me, as they are both solitary independent positions on the pitch and play a strong part on the final result. After my experience with Firenze Ovest, I moved to the Fiorentina Academy where I stayed until the summer of 2002 whereupon Brescia signed me up.
Brescia changed my life: when I was 16 I had the privilege of training with fantastic players such as Roberto Baggio and it was in that period that I began to understand that football wasn't just for fun anymore, but it was becoming something more serious. After two years with the academy I went to Cesena on loan for the 2004-2005 season. I was 18 and made my debut in professional football, with a total of 13 appearances in the Seire B. The following year I returned to Brescia, who had just been relegated to the Serie B. I played 14 matches, substituting Agliardi, the first goalkeeper who had been injured. I took advantage of the situation and thanks to my good performances on the pitch the club confirmed me as the team's first goalkeeper for the following season where I had 40 appearances (2006-2007). I stayed 2 seasons more at Brescia, in the Serie B, with a total of 35 and 37 appearances in the subsequent two years. Brescia didn't mean only football to me, it represented a key moment in my private life as well. It was when I met and married Manuela. Brescia represented my maturity. 5 years in the Serie B (1 at Cesena, 4 at Brescia) were fundamental for my career. I totalled 126 appearances, conceding 120 goals (I can't complain with an average of less than one goal per match). During Brescia- Albinoleffe I think I made the best save of my career.
On July 13th 2009 Bologna bought half of my registration rights, the other half being bought by Inter in February 2009. When I was 23 I made my debut in the Serie A. The week before the football season started I experienced a succession of emotions. Before my debut there had been a more important and unforgettable event, my debut as father. My daughter, Viola, was born on August 16th. Added to this was another strong emotion. My debut against Fiorentina, the team I have always supported. I forgot my passion for Fiorentina as soon as the match started. It was played at the Dall'Ara stadium on the hot day of August 22nd and I played a great match. After 13 minutes Gilardino, in the box, tried to ruin my debut in Serie A, but with a double save I managed to prevent the goal. Osvaldo gave us the lead but in the second half Mutu equalized. The match ended 1-1. Fortunately, after a difficult start (only one victory in the first 9 games), Bologna reacted and started to collect a series of important results (4-3 at Marassi against Genoa and 2-1 at Franchi against Fiorentina, sigh!), that resulted in us keeping the Serie A in advance.
On June 10th Inter and Bologna renewed the co-ownership. I played the following season in Bologna. Despite three penalty points and a very tough start, Bologna played a very good season, maintaining the Serie A and reaching the Coppa Italia last sixteen against Napoli who beat us 2-1.
On June 25th 2011, after two beautiful and intense years that allowed me to grow as a footballer and as a man, my experience with the Bologna jersey finished. Hence I went back to Inter, where during a training session I seriously injured my left knee keeping me out of action for a significant part of the season. I didn't have the chance to make my debut with Inter and after exhausting therapy sessions on January 13th 2012 Palermo bought the half of my registration rights previously owned by Genoa. It was time to return to play! Finally on January 22nd 2012 I was on the pitch with my teammates and we won 5-3 against Genoa at home in front of our supporters. Despite great matches against Inter (4-4) and against Lazio (won 5-1) the season wasn't satisfactory for Palermo.
On July 2012, when my experience at Palermo was already over, I received one of the best pieces of news in my life: in 2012-2013 I was to play with the Viola jersey, the one of my city, Florence. I was finally defending the Fiorentina's colours, my childhood's dream. I ended the season with 32 appearances but the club didn't exercise their right of redemption and I went back to Palermo, though I didn't take part to the preseason training sessions.
On September 2013 I had the chance to experience an important phase of my career that allowed me to evaluate myself in a new league, the English one, with the prestigious Arsenal jersey. My personal experience wasn't very good because I didn't have the opportunity to make my debut with the Gunners, though with my teammates I won the first trophy of my career, the 2014 FA Cup.
On August 2014 I came back to Italy highly motivated, ready to prove myself in the A Series once again and thanks to Sampdoria, with whom I made my debut on August 31st against Palermo, I started a new adventure in my home league.
After a positive season, the club showed me a great confidence. They decided to sign me from Palermo and so they allowed me to continue this fantastic adventure with the “blucerchiati”.
YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM
I took part to the Under-20 World Cup in 2005 with the Under-20 National team.
During the 2006-2007 season I was part of the Under 21 squad and took part in the European Cup in 2007. In the first game I replaced Curci, the first goalkeeper, and I played the remaining games.
In 2008 I played with the Olympic National team which participated to the Olympic Games in Beijing. In the first three matches I didn't concede any goals and I saved a decisive penalty in the match against Cameroon, allowing the Azzurri to reach the first position in the group. In the quarter-finals we lost 3-2.
On August 6th 2010 I had the privilege to be included in the squad of the National team of Cesare Prandelli, for the friendly match against the Ivory Cost. On September 7th 2010 I made my debut with the Italian National team in the match Italy vs Faer Oer (5-0), which took place in my city, Florence. Another dream to come true in my professional career! I was then chosen as second goalkeeper behind the legend Gianluigi Buffon and I played two more matches against Northern Ireland and Serbia on October 2011. On February 26th 2012 I came back in the National Team after a serious injury but unfortunately I haven't been included in the final squad for the European Championship of Poland-Ukraine.