Christian Vieri (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkristjaɱ ˈvjɛːri]; born 12 July 1973) is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a centre forward.
Vieri was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as a part of FIFA's centenary celebrations. For a number of years he was regarded as one of the finest strikers in Europe, leading to him becoming the world's most expensive player in 1999 when Inter paid Lazio £32 million (€43 million) for his services. Something of a footballing nomad, Vieri played for no fewer than 12 clubs throughout his career, mainly in Italy, but also in Spain and France. He started his career with Torino in 1991, but his most notable and successful spells were those at Juventus, Atlético Madrid, Lazio and Inter, clubs with which he won several honours.
As well as picking up several winners medals during his career, Vieri also claimed many individual awards including the Pichichi Trophy and Capocannoniere awards for league top scorer in Spain and Italy and Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year twice. He is Italy's highest ever goalscorer in the FIFA World Cup, along with Roberto Baggio and Paolo Rossi, with a combined nine goals from nine matches at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments.
Born in Bologna, Italy, his family moved to Australia in the 1970s, residing in the suburb of Wetherill Park in South-Western Sydney and he attended Prairiewood High School. His father, Roberto Vieri played for Sydney-based club Marconi Stallions. It is from his father that he inherited his nickname Bobo which he carried with him throughout his career.
During his time in Australia, Vieri developed a love for both football and cricket, a sport he still follows to this day. He stated in an interview that he would have liked to have been a professional cricketer. His brother, Massimiliano Vieri, is also a professional footballer and was an Australian international in 2004. Vieri played for Marconi Juniors when he was a child but his family subsequently moved back to Italy.
Vieri started his playing career at Marconi Stallions. Upon his return to Italy in 1988 his first club was A.C. Santa Lucia, a team from Prato, where his first coach was Luciano Diamanti, the father of the player Alessandro Diamanti. The next year he became affiliated with Prato and scored several goals in the Campionato Nazionale Dante Berretti.
The following year he moved to Torino after being spotted by Serino Rampanti, who recommended him to the coach Sergio Vatta. The president of the Prato, Andrea Toccafondi, did not want to sell the promising striker. To convince him to sell Vieri to Torino, the Granata also had to buy the son of Toccafondi, Paolo, who was a goalkeeper. After a year in the Torino youth ranks, Vieri was given his first team debut, at age 18, on 30 October 1991 in the 1991–92 Coppa Italia under Emiliano Mondonico; scoring the second goal in a 2–0 win for Torino against Lazio. On 15 December of the same year he made his official debut in Serie A during the final minutes of a home game against Fiorentina (2–0). He would later score his first goal in the league in a match won 4–0 against Genoa. At the end of the 1991–92 season Vieri would pick up a runners up medal as an unused substitute in the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, lost on away goals to Ajax.
In November 1992, he was sold to Serie B club Pisa, scoring two goals in 18 appearances. He would only stay in Pisa for one season, moving to fellow Serie B side, Ravenna, for the 1993–94 season, where he scored 12 goals in 32 appearances. He was subsequently transferred to another Serie B club for the 1994–95 season, Venezia, where he scored 11 goals in 29 appearances.
After three seasons in Serie B, Vieri returned to Serie A for the 1995–96 season, when he joined Atalanta, scoring nine goals in 21 appearances. His first big move came about when he was spotted by Juventus who signed him from Atalanta for a fee of €2.5 million for the 1996–97 season. He made 23 appearances and scored eight goals in Serie A, and six goals in ten matches in Europe, making him joint top scorer for Juventus that season along with Alen Bokšić. He ended his season at Juve by winning the 'Scudetto and starting in the 3–1 UEFA Champions League final loss to Borussia Dortmund.
Vieri's form for Juventus attracted the attention of Spanish side, Atlético Madrid who paid €10 million to sign the striker. He scored a total of 24 goals in 24 league appearances for Atlético and finished the season with 29 goals from 32 appearances, which saw him receive the Pichichi Trophy awarded to the league's top scorer. In an interview with Marca magazine shortly after arriving at the Calderón, he named his all-time sporting hero as Australian cricketer Allan Border.
After his performances for Atlético Madrid and at the 1998 World Cup, he returned to the Serie A with Lazio for a fee of €25 million. He had a successful season, scoring 14 goals in 28 appearances and won the Cup Winners' Cup. However, the following season he was the subject of a (then) world record transfer of €49 million (£32 million) to Internazionale after drawing the attention of chairman Massimo Moratti and manager Marcello Lippi, who had requested the player after their successful season together at Juventus. Inter would be Vieri's ninth club in his ninth season of being a professional footballer, and the only one where he would play for more than one season, for a total of six.
At Inter, Vieri formed a potentially dangerous partnership with Ronaldo up front, but because of injuries to both players, they were not able to play together often. He was impressive in his first couple of seasons, but constant managerial changes meant that Inter could not challenge for the Scudetto. It was under disciplined Argentinian coach Héctor Cúper, that Vieri and Inter really began to flourish and challenge for honours. Vieri was made the focal point of the attack and scored 22 goals in 25 games in the 2001–02 season as Inter narrowly missed out on the title after their last-day defeat to Lazio. The following season he was Serie A Capocannoniere after scoring 24 goals in 23 appearances. In addition, he scored three goals in Inter's Champions League campaign and formed a potent partnership with Hernán Crespo. He scored both of Inter's goals in the quarter-final victory over Valencia. Vieri was injured during the second leg of this game and therefore played no part in the semi-final defeat to city rivals Milan.
The following year, Cúper was sacked only a few games into the season and was replaced by Alberto Zaccheroni. Vieri did not get along with his new manager and also had many of the Inter fans turn on him after his dip in form. In addition, he had shown his discontent at the sale of strike partner Crespo to Chelsea. When Roberto Mancini replaced Zaccheroni in the summer of 2004, Vieri played the majority games upfront with Adriano. It was clear to many though that the injury he had sustained against Valencia had taken its toll on Vieri and he was no longer as sharp in front of goal, despite his respectable goal output.
In July 2005, Vieri and Inter came to a mutual agreement to terminate his contract with the club. He was then signed by cross-town rivals Milan, but left the Rossoneri – where he was not a regular starter – after just six months, joining French side Monaco in order to play regularly and gain a place in Italy's squad for the 2006 World Cup. However, he suffered a serious knee injury while playing for Monaco in 2006, which required extensive surgery and ruled out the possibility of playing in his third consecutive FIFA World Cup.
Vieri agreed a one-year deal with Sampdoria on 6 July 2006. However, Vieri returned to Atalanta on 29 August, signing a one-year minimum wage contract worth €1,500 per month. Although he received a paltry salary, Vieri was to earn another €100,000 for every goal he scored, leaving chairman Ivan Ruggeri to comment, "If things go well, Vieri will cost me €2 million." Vieri scored two goals in seven substitute appearances, including one spectacular long-range effort.
In June 2007, Atalanta announced they would not offer a contract extension to Vieri. His contract therefore ended on 30 June. Vieri signed a one-year deal with Fiorentina in the summer of 2007 and he was officially presented to the press on 21 July 2007. He signed a one-year-contract for Atalanta on 30 June 2008. However, in early April, both Atalanta and Vieri mutually agreed that the contract was to be rescinded after only making nine appearances for the club. He announced his retirement on 20 October 2009.
Vieri scored 23 goals in 49 matches for Italy and played for his country at the 1998 World Cup, scoring five times, and the 2002 World Cup, scoring four times, though he endured a less successful tournament at Euro 2004, whilst he missed Euro 2000 and 2006 World Cup through injury. Vieri is generally considered to be Italy's greatest pure striker of recent times despite strong competition, and is one of Italy's most prolific World Cup goal scorers. Appearing in a total of nine World Cup games in 1998 and 2002, he found the net nine times, making him one of the most feared strikers in those tournaments along with Ronaldo and Miroslav Klose. He was named by Pelé as one of the 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. Alongside Francesco Graziani, he is Italy's ninth highest goalscorer of all time.
Vieri received his first international cap during the 1996–97 season after some impressive displays for Juventus. He scored a key goal for Italy in the play off against Russia during qualification for the 1998 World Cup. At the finals of the tournament in France he formed a strong partnership with Roberto Baggio. Vieri opened the scoring against Chile after an assist from his strike partner. He went on to score three more goals against Cameroon and Austria during the group stage. Vieri scored Italy's only goal in the round of 16 match against Norway. He scored Italy's fourth penalty in the quarterfinal shooutout against France but Luigi Di Biagio missed the fifth and Italy were eliminated. That quarter-final showdown against France was the only game of the tournament in which Vieri was unable to score.
Vieri missed out on Euro 2000 after suffering a recurrence of an old thigh injury, during the fourth place playoff with Parma at the end of the 1999–2000 season after a collision with Gianluigi Buffon, who would also miss out on the tournament.
Italy played Vieri as a lone striker in the 2002 World Cup, scoring an impressive four goals in four games. He managed a brace in the opening game against Ecuador and scored Italy's only goal in the 2–1 defeat to Croatia despite having a previous goal incorrectly ruled out for offside. In the round-of-16 match against South Korea he opened the scoring in the 18th minute, scoring a powerful header from a Francesco Totti corner. Italy led the game until the Koreans equalised two minutes before the end. Just one minute after the Korean equaliser, Vieri missed an open goal which would have put Italy in front. Italy were eventually eliminated by South Korea by a golden goal. The only game in which he failed to find the net was against Mexico in a 1–1 draw.
Vieri was once again the main striker in Italy's ill fated Euro 2004 campaign. However, this time he did not fare so well, scoring no goals as Italy were eliminated in the first round. It was during this tournament that his now infamous "more of a man" press conference took place, where he hit back at his critics in the Italian press by stating that he was more of a man than any of them. It is worth noting that Euro 2004 occurred at a particularly painful period of Vieri's life, when he was being spied upon by his own club Internazionale and Telecom Italia at the request of club owner Massimo Moratti. In September 2012, Inter and Telecom Italia were ordered by a Milan court to pay Vieri damages amounting to €1 million for this case of phone tapping.
More disappointment occurred when he missed the 2006 World Cup after suffering a knee meniscus injury in a Ligue 1 match against Paris Saint-Germain on 26 March 2006. Although Vieri would not necessarily have been a starter for Marcelo Lippi's side, Lippi admitted that he would have picked him had he been fit. He played in three tournaments, but failed to win a medal in each of them, missing out on the Euro 2000 runners up medal and the glorious 2006 World Cup winners medal.
Style of play
Vieri was a complete, quick, prolific, and opportunistic striker, with a keen eye for goal. Due to his notable goal-scoring prowess, Vieri is regarded by pundits as one of the greatest Italian strikers of all time and one of the top strikers of his generation. In his prime, his unique style of play, which blended power with pace and solid technique, led him to be compared to Luigi Riva, as well as earning him the nickname of Il Toro (The Bull). Despite his goalscoring ability, he was also injury prone throughout his career, however, which greatly affected his pace, fitness and mobility in later years. Vieri was predominantly left-footed, although he was capable of scoring with both feet, as well as with his head and from volleys. He has often been described as a large, old fashioned centre forward, due to his powerful physical presence and outstanding aerial ability; he is the all-time top scorer of headed goals in Italian league history. Despite being primarily a goal-scoring striker, he was also capable of providing assists to team mates on occasion, which was also aided at times by his ability to use his strength to hold up the ball and play with his back to goal in order to participate in attacking build-up plays. Although he was primarily a goal-area threat, Vieri had an accurate and powerful shot from distance as well as inside the area; he was also an accurate penalty taker.
Vieri is of Italian and French descent as his mother Nathalie was born and raised in Paris. His father, Roberto, was also a footballer, who played both in Italy and Australia.
Christian Vieri's personal life has been subject to much media attention in Italy. He has been involved in many high-profile relationships, including those with models Elisabetta Canalis, Elena Santarelli, Debora Salvalaggio, Fernanda Lessa, Melissa Satta, and Jazzma Kendrick among others.
He has his own fashion label – Sweet Years – which he runs with friend and former Italy and Milan team mate Paolo Maldini. The pair also own a number of restaurants in the city of Milan. Another close friend of his is current Milan forward Alessandro Matri, with whom he has been seen holidaying in Spain, along with other friends. He also started another clothing brand (Baci & Abbracci) with close friend and footballer Cristian Brocchi and model Alena Šeredová.
His brother, Massimiliano "Max" Vieri, played for Australia.
Vieri features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series; he was on the cover for the Italian edition of FIFA 99, and was named in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 14.
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||UEFA Super Cup||Europe||Total|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Supercopa||Europe||Total|
|1997–98||Atlético Madrid||La Liga||24||24||1||0||–||7||5||32||29|
|France||League||Coupe de France||Coupe de la Ligue||Europe||Total|
1Includes one Champions League Serie A play-off match (2000).
|Italy national team|
|Vieri – goals for Italy|
|1.||29 March 1997||Stadio Nereo Rocco, Trieste, Italy||Moldova||2–0||3–0||1998 World Cup qualifier|
|2.||29 October 1997||Dynamo Stadium, Moscow, Russia||Russia||0–1||1–1||1998 World Cup play-off|
|3.||11 June 1998||Parc Lescure, Bordeaux, France||Chile||1–0||2–2||1998 FIFA World Cup|
|4.||17 June 1998||Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier, France||Cameroon||2–0||3–0||1998 FIFA World Cup|
|6.||23 June 1998||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||Austria||1–0||2–1||1998 FIFA World Cup|
|7.||27 June 1998||Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France||Norway||1–0||1–0||1998 World Cup, R16|
|8.||5 September 1998||Anfield, Liverpool, England||Wales||0–2||0–2||Euro 2000 qualifier|
|9.||5 June 1999||Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy||Wales||1–0||4–0||Euro 2000 qualifier|
|10.||8 September 1999||Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy||Denmark||2–0||2–3||Euro 2000 qualifier|
|11.||3 June 2002||Sapporo Dome, Sapporo, Japan||Ecuador||1–0||2–0||2002 FIFA World Cup|
|13.||8 June 2002||Kashima Soccer Stadium, Kashima, Japan||Croatia||1–0||1–2||2002 FIFA World Cup|
|14.||18 June 2002||Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea||South Korea||0–1||2–1||2002 World Cup, R16|
|15.||20 November 2002||Stadio Adriatico, Pescara, Italy||Turkey||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|16.||29 March 2003||Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, Italy||Finland||1–0||2–0||Euro 2004 qualifier|
|18.||20 August 2003||Gottlieb Daimler Stadion, Stuttgart, Germany||Germany||0–1||0–1||Friendly|
|19.||11 October 2003||Stadio Oreste Granillo, Reggio Calabria, Italy||Azerbaijan||1–0||4–0||Euro 2004 qualifier|
|20.||18 February 2004||Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, Italy||Czech Republic||1–0||2–2||Friendly|
|21.||31 March 2004||Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal||Portugal||1–1||1–2||Friendly|
|22.||28 April 2004||Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy||Spain||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|23.||12 October 2005||Stadio Via del Mare, Lecce, Italy||Moldova||1–0||2–1||2006 World Cup qualifier|
- Picasso's face, (2000)