Player Profile: Fabrizio Ravanelli
Date of Birth: 11/12/1968
National Team: Italy
International Caps: 22
International Goals: 8
Journeyman footballers are a dime a dozen in world football, but few become as exceptionally successful as Fabrizio Ravanelli. The Italian striker has quite the collection of clubs on his resume. Unlike many other journeymen, though, he has a healthy number of titles as well.
Fabrizio Ravanelli started his career with his hometown club Perugia while he was still a teenager. They were then in the third tier of Italian football and Ravanelli, in just his second season with the club, fired them to promotion, scoring an impressive 23 goals.
His career then took a series of zig-zag turns. After spending a year with Perugia in the second tier, he moved to Avellino where he had a forgettable season. He then moved down a level into third-tier football again, this time with Casertana where his performances compelled second-tier Reggiana to sign him. He scored 24 goals across two seasons with the club. Then in 1992, Juventus became interested in the then 23-year-olds services, and he joined the Turin based club in Serie A.
This was a dream come true for Ravanelli, who had grown up a Juve fan. He cost £3 million and joined a star-studded line-up that already boasted the likes of Roberto Baggio, Paulo Di Canio, Gianluca Vialli and Alessandro Del Piero.
Surprisingly, Ravanelli’s first couple of years with the Italian giants were rather barren. The only title he won was a UEFA Cup in 1992-93. His personal form was rather average too — in his first season for Juventus, he scored nine goals, while his second season yielded 12. But all that changed with the arrival of the mercurial Marcelo Lippi. The future World Cup winning coach beat the Italian giants into shape, and they finally began to resemble the sum of their talented parts.
Lippi had a dramatic effect on Ravanelli, who suddenly became Juve’s main man. In the 1994-95 season, Juve did the domestic double, winning both the Serie A and the Coppa Italia. Ravanelli played a huge role in their success, scoring a whopping 30 goals that season.
The next season would prove to be even sweeter for Ravanelli. Juve missed out on the Serie A and Ravanelli’s own form suffered as his goal tally shrunk to 17. But he was able to get his hands on the most prestigious club football trophy of them all as Juve edged Ajax in the Champions League final. Ravanelli even scored in the final which the Bianconeri would eventually win on penalties.
As was the case several times in his career, Ravanelli’s next destination came as somewhat of a surprise. Not many players can say that a Champions League final in which they won and scored, was their last game for their club. But Ravanelli never played another game for the Old Lady. Instead, he opted to make the eyebrow-raising move to Middlesbrough, who had finished 12th in the Premier League the season before. He cost £7 million. Ravanelli would later go on to say that he regretted moving away from Juve when he did.
Things began swimmingly for Ravanelli at Middlesbrough. In his very first game for the club, he made an immediate impact, scoring a hat-trick against Liverpool. Middlesbrough went behind three times in the match only for Ravanelli to drag them back each time. The first was a penalty won after a foul on Boro’s skilfull Brazilian Juninho. The second was a poacher’s effort. The third, a late equaliser, ensured the match ended 3-3.
Ravanelli’s Boro stint though wouldn’t end well. Despite the Italian scoring an impressive 31 goals in all competitions, a leaky defence that conceded more goals than anyone else in the league saw Middlesbrough relegated. He did, however, get to play two finals that season — Boro reached both the FA Cup and League Cup finals only to lose both.
Ravanelli did not stay to help his team back up, instead opting to move to Marseille in Ligue 1. He scored 31 goals in his two and a half year stay with the French club before he was on the move again
When he decided to leave Marseille, Ravanelli was 31 and his best years looked to be behind him. However, there was to be one more final flourish. The Italian moved to Lazio where he won the Serie A and Coppa Italia double once again. The Sven-Göran Eriksson led side boasted the likes of Diego Simeone, Juan Sebastián Verón, Pavel Nedvěd, Alessandro Nesta, Roberto Mancini and Marcelo Salas. Ravanelli’s contribution was small — four goals in 21 games — but vital nonetheless.
After leaving Lazio, he had stints at Derby County and Dundee before coming back to where it all started — Perugia. Ravanelli came with the stated aim of trying to save the club from relegation but failed as The Griffins were sent down to the second division. After one more season, he hung up his boots for good.
Owing to his relatively late introduction to top-flight football, Fabrizio Ravanelli did not make his international debut until 1995 when he was already 26. He debuted against Estonia in a Euro 1996 qualifier and scored his first international goal in that match. He managed to get into Italy’s 1996 Euros squad and played two games in what ultimately proved to be an unsuccessful campaign. He was, however, overlooked by Cesare Maldini for the 1998 World Cup.
Where is Fabrizio Ravanelli now?
After his retirement as a footballer, Ravanelli took to coaching, joining Juventus as a youth coach. He spent a couple of years there but soon left to become a club manager.
In 2013, he joined as the manager of Ligue 1 outfit Ajaccio. However, he only lasted a few months in that role, getting sacked after a poor run of results left them near the bottom of the table. After taking a hiatus from management, Ravanelli resurfaced in Ukraine in June 2018, taking over the reins of Arsenal Kyiv. Once again, he lasted only a few months there before getting sacked in September that year.
Ravanelli has also worked as a media pundit for various channels.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Fabrizio Ravanelli
– Ravanelli would pull his shirt over his head to celebrate a goal.
– During his second stint at Perugia, one of his teammates was Libyan Al-Saadi Gaddafi, son of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
– When he joined Boro, Ravanelli was the best-payed player in the league.