MILAN – Milan youth goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been speaking to the Italian Football Federation site about life at the club.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was born in Castellammare di Stabia 16 years ago. He is 197cm tall and grew up in his town academy. His uncle was the Castellammare goalkeeping coach and put Donnarumma in the net at just 4 years old. Gianluigi’s brother is also a goalkeeper and played for Milan youth team, as well as for Genoa and Bari.


Interview with Donnarumma: Playing for Azzurri and in the Serie A at 16!


Gianluigi, tell us how did you start
“My uncle took me onto the Castellammare pitches, holding my hand, and gave me the passion for this sport. I was only 4 but he could see my talent already. I started playing football in the team academy as a goalkeeper and I never quit this position. My brother, who left us to play for AC Milan youth squad as a 14 year old, was a good role model for me. ”

So you improved your skills playing with Castellammare?
I never moved to another club. Unfortunately my uncle died early, around 10 years ago, and I met Ernesto Ferrara at the football academy – the goalkeeping coach who gave me a lot of support. Thanks to him I improved a lot, not just my skills as a goalkeeper though, and from that some Serie A teams started to look at me two years ago.

You followed in your brother’s footsteps to Milan…

I actually trialled for Inter and had a good offer from them, but then Milan intervened and after they called my club president, they decided to take me.

It is like a dream…
Yes. Milan have always been my favourite team. I’m a Milan fan and my dream is to one day become an icon for this team

The dream started two years ago. You are 16…

Yes and I still cannot believe it. If I think about it, that I was able to reach the Serie A in such a short space of time, and at the same time also play for the national team, I have to pinch myself to check that I am awake!

When did you make your national team debut?
The U15s coach Rocca called me up for two friendlies against Belgium last year in February. I made my debut in a game full of goal – a 3-3 draw. I played for U16s after that and then the U17s coach Bruno Tedino called me up for the first stage of the European Championship qualifiers. In three games I conceded only one goal.

And then Milan in this season…
Exactly. In February, if I remember correctly, it was on the 23rd against Cesena. I was on the bench.

In San Siro…
How to explain the emotions you feel in that stadium! Every time it’s the same, when I come out of the player’s tunnel and to go to the bench I relive my childhood dreams.

You’re dreams are coming true at just 16 years of age…
Sure. I have another dream though, to play for the senior national team. My idol is Buffon, he is the best. One day I hope to be the senior national team goalkeeper.

You are in Bulgaria for the U17 European Championship now…
It is a tough challenge. Our group is tough but I’m confident, we will make it through.

How do you like living in Milan?
I feel good. I live in the AC Milan boarding school, where they take care on me and my future. I continue to study. To live alone at 14 year old is rite of passage in my life, but I have to say thank you to my parents. They were always at my side giving me strength and calm. I can only thank them for that.

Do you have a particular hobby?

Football is my hobby and my passion. I like to spend time with friends. I feel comfortable when I’m in a group.

The feeling you get when talking to Gianluigi, who was able to reach such heights in just two years, is that he is staying grounded, and now in the national team he plays alongside his “lifelong” opponent and friend Luca Matarese (Genoa CFC), who was also born in Castellammare, despite coming through the ranks at opponent side, Napoli Juniors. “He scored a lot against me when we were children. In the last game four years ago, he scored twice. You never know, maybe together we will win this European Championship.”