The Italian Almanac

Gennaro (Rino) Gattuso

Square Born

With a World Cup, a Champions League and a scudetto under his belt, AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is undoubtedly one of the top footballers of his generation. But Gattuso's success is not limited to the field of play - he is also a happy family man and perhaps Italy's best-loved soccer star with fans. According to the 29-year-old's newly published autobiography, this is no coincidence because he believes his winning formula can be applied to any sphere of life. "After reading my autobiography, the people who watch me play will understand that whatever they do, even if they don't have exceptional talent, if they love it and give their utmost, they can win the most important game of life," Gattuso said at the book's presentation.

The highlights of Gattuso's glittering career feature strongly in the 160-page work - the 2006 World Cup triumph with the Azzurri, the 2003 Champions League and the 2004 Italian title with Milan. But he also focuses closely on his modest origins, growing up as a 'terrone' (southern peasant) in the Calabrian town of Corigliano Calabro and playing junior soccer on dry pitches as hard as concrete. The autobiography covers his first experiences of Serie B and Serie A as a teenager with Perugia and devotes considerable space to the year he spent at Glasgow Rangers (1997-98).

Although his stay was short, Gattuso considers his time in Scotland as a key part of his career. He describes the problems he had learning English, adapting to Scottish culture and the weather and getting used to being so far from home. On the plus side, he talks about how his aggression and drive enabled him to win over the Rangers fans and how he enjoyed the challenges of the tough, physical Scottish championship. There is also the story of how he met his wife, Monica, who is the daughter of a Glasgow-based Italian restaurateur who took the 19-year-old Gattuso under his wing during his time with Rangers.

Gattuso shows plenty of the self-depreciating wit that has helped make him a favourite with the public too. He admits that his use of the Italian language is not always exemplary and that "some of my team-mates say my school teacher must have died when I was a kid".

Gattuso, who has 51 Azzurri caps and has scored one goal for his country, also reveals some secrets about his colleagues. He says Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is a dreadful singer, Milan defender and former Italy star Alessandro Costacurta is something of an intellectual and that Juve striker Alessandro Del Piero is Italy's most fun footballer off the field.

The book's title is 'Se uno nasce quadrato non muore tondo' (If You're Born Square, You Won't Die Round), which Gattuso said reflects his belief in being true to imself and to his roots.