1. FC Union Berlin have signed Italian international Leonardo Bonucci, with the 36-year-old moving to the Alte Försterei from record Italian champions, Juventus.
From Milan via Pisa to Turin
Bonucci began his professional career with Internazionale, celebrating his Serie A debut in May 2006. In the years that followed, however, he was unable to establish himself in Milan and moved on loan to FCB Treviso in the summer of 2007. There, Bonucci immediately became a regular player, and the centre-back attracted the interest of league rivals AC Pisa, for whom he played 18 league games in the second half of the 2008/09 season.
Then, in the 2009/10 season, the defender's dream came true when he established himself in the top flight of Italian football with Serie A club AS Bari, playing all 38 league games, scoring one goal. After the season, he signed for record champions Juventus Turin for a transfer fee of €15.5m. Apart from a one-year intermezzo at AC Milan in the 2017/18 season, he has since worn the fabled black and white jersey of the northern Italians without interruption and has played over 500 competitive games. Bonucci has celebrated numerous successes with Juve including beoming Italian champion nine times and cup winner four times.
The drama of Bordeaux and the triumph of London
Bonucci is also a 121-time international and has captained his country since September 2022. He made his debut for the Azzurri in March 2010 under World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi and took part in the World Cup in South Africa a few months later. However, he did not make an appearance and had to sit back and watch as the team went out in the first round. At the European Championship two years later, Bonnuci’s experience was far better, playing regularly and finishing with a runners-up medal. Four years later, at the tournament in France, he was again on the pitch for the full 90 minutes of every game. After Italy had easily made it through the preliminary round, the legendary "drama of Bordeaux" took place in the quarter-finals against Germany. Bonucci scored a penalty in the 78th minute to make it 1-1, which saw the game go to extra time. In the penalty shootout, however, Italy lost 6-5.
Five years on, he celebrated his greatest success as a national player at the 2021 European Championship when he finally became European champion. Together with his friend and long-time teammate Giorgio Chiellini, he was one of the central players in the Squadra Azzurra's triumph. In the final against England at London's Wembley Stadium, he scored the equaliser to make it 1-1 and was subsequently voted into the "Team of the Tournament" by UEFA.
Three facts about Leonardo:
- Italian daily La Repubblica nicknamed him "Beckenbonucci" in reference to Franz Beckenbauer.
- Leonardo is particularly fond of scoring between the 16th and 45th minutes (21 of his 45 goals have come in this timeframe).
- Bonucci is the oldest scorer ever in a European Championship final
Views on the transfer
"It is special for me to take the step abroad for the first time in my career. At Union, I have the opportunity to continue playing at the highest level and to support the team on its way in three demanding competitions with my experience. I am very much looking forward to this new station in my career” said Bonucci on his move to the capital.
"With Leonardo, we are signing a player with a lot of experience, " said Union’s director of men’s professional football, Oliver Ruhnert. “He has proven his qualities over many years both nationally and internationally. We are convinced that with his mentality and his flexibility he will expand our possibilities in defence and raise us to another level once again."