Former Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini retired from professional football on Tuesday, calling time on a career which began in 2000.
Chiellini’s final game came in Saturday’s MLS Cup final, where his LAFC team were beaten 2-1 by Columbus Crew.
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“You have been the most beautiful and intense journey of my life,” Chiellini wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“You have been my everything. With you I have travelled a unique and unforgettable path.
“But now it is time to start new chapters, face new challenges and write further important and exciting pages of life.”
Chiellini, 39, started his career with Livorno in 2000, but made his name with Juventus where he made 561 appearances from 2005 to 2022.
Juventus won the league in Chiellini’s first full season with Juventus, although that title was later rescinded and handed to Inter Milan as a result of the Calciopoli scandal.
Having initially played on the left side, he moved to centre-back during Juventus’ year in Serie B, establishing himself in the team as the Bianconeri won the second-tier title.
He went on to win nine Serie A titles with Juventus in a row between 2011 and 2020, as well as five Coppa Italia trophies. Chiellini twice lost the Champions League final with Juventus, in 2015 and 2017.
“For Juventus fans, for 17 seasons, the number 3 stood for one thing, and one thing only: Giorgio Chiellini,” Juventus wrote in a statement.
“Player, man and captain — three perspectives of Giorgio himself, who today concluded his career as a footballer.
“Everything, always, together. You were always by our side, like a superhero ready to intervene if necessary. In your case, however, there was no shield, red cloak or bat-mobile.”
Chiellini played 117 games for Italy, becoming captain in 2019, with his defining moment coming in the successful Euro 2020 campaign as he played a pivotal role in Italy’s defeat of England in the final.
In his first season in MLS, Chiellini won the MLS Cup with LAFC alongside Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela.
“Firstly, we would like to congratulate Giorgio on his legendary career.” LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said in a club statement.
“We consider ourselves grateful that Giorgio, Carolina, Nina, and Olivia chose to spend the last 18 months of Giorgio’s playing days at LAFC. Giorgio is the best defender of his generation and an even better person.
“Giorgio exceeded the incredibly high expectations we had for him both on and off the field. His leadership, professionalism, and character will leave a lasting legacy at LAFC, and we trust that our relationship with Giorgio will continue.”