Gianluca Festa

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Gianluca Festa
Personal information
Date of birth (1969-03-15) 15 March 1969 (age 50)
Place of birth Cagliari, Italy
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Centre-back / Right-back
Senior career*
1986–1993 Cagliari 128 (0)
1987–1988 → Fersulcis (loan) 26 (2)
1993–1994 Internazionale 4 (0)
1994 Roma 21 (1)
1994–1997 Internazionale 62 (3)
1997–2002 Middlesbrough 136 (10)
2002–2003 Portsmouth 27 (1)
2003–2004 Cagliari 26 (2)
2004–2007 Nuorese 79 (6)
2007–2008 Tavolara 15 (0)
2008–2009 Sanluri 31 (1)
Teams managed
2010 Cagliari (Assistant Manager)
2010–2012 Cagliari (Reserve Team Manager)
2012–2013 Lumezzane
2015 Cagliari
2015–2016 Como
2018–2019 AEL
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league onlyand correct as of 10 May 2019

Gianluca Festa (born 15 March 1969 in Cagliari) is an Italian former football player. He was most recently head coach of Greek Super League club AEL. Festa played as a defender for clubs such as Internazionale and Roma, but is best known for his spells at Middlesbrough and Cagliari.

Cagliari Comune in Sardinia, Italy

Cagliari is an Italian municipality and the capital of the island of Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy. Cagliari's Sardinian name Casteddu literally means castle. It has about 155,000 inhabitants, while its metropolitan city has more than 431,000 inhabitants. According to Eurostat, the population of the Functional urban area, the commuting zone of Cagliari, rises to 476,975. Cagliari is the 26th largest city in Italy and the largest city on the island of Sardinia.

Association football Team field sport played between two teams of eleven players with spherical ball

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Athlitiki Enosi Larissa F.C. association football club in Greece

AEL Football Club, also known by its full name Athlitiki Enosi Larissa, simply called AEL or Larissa, is a Greek association football club based in the city of Larissa, capital of Greece's Thessaly region.


Playing career

Festa started his career at his hometown club Cagliari, after impressing at Cagliari he joined Inter Milan. In his first year at the club he only made 4 league starts for Inter, and was transferred to Serie A rivals A.S. Roma. His form for Roma then earned him a move back to Inter Milan where he became a regular starter for the club, however prior to joining Middlesbrough he lost his place in the team and found himself mainly as a substitute.

Cagliari Calcio Italian association football club

Cagliari Calcio, commonly referred to as Cagliari, is an Italian football club based in Cagliari, Sardinia. The club currently plays in Serie A.

Inter Milan professional association football club founded in 1908 based in Milan, Italy

Football Club Internazionale Milano, commonly referred to as Internazionale or simply Inter and colloquially known as Inter Milan outside Italy, is an Italian professional football club based in Milan, Lombardy. Inter is the only Italian club to have never been relegated from the top flight.

Serie A professional association football league in Italy

Serie A, also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by TIM, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa Campioni d'Italia. It has been operating as a round-robin tournament for over ninety years since the 1929–30 season. It had been organized by the Direttorio Divisioni Superiori until 1943 and the Lega Calcio until 2010, when the Lega Serie A was created for the 2010–11 season. Serie A is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world and it is often depicted as the most tactical national league. Serie A was the world's second-strongest national league in 2014 according to IFFHS. Serie A is ranked third among European leagues according to UEFA's league coefficient, behind La Liga and the Premier League, and ahead of the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League during the last five years. Serie A led the UEFA ranking from 1986 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1999.

In 1997, Festa joined Middlesbrough, being one of the first Italians to play in the Premier League. Festa arrived at Middlesbrough from Inter Milan in the midst of a relegation battle to add steel to the defence. Festa was the second Italian at the club with Middlesbrough also having Italian International Fabrizio Ravanelli at the club. Festa scored on an impressive winning debut against Sheffield Wednesday in January 1997. [1] Festa had been an accomplished martial arts master, a junior Italian tennis champion and captain of the Army team when he did his national service. He had shrewd positional sense, was tough in the tackle, a dominating figure in the air and got forward on occasions to score the odd important goal. After scoring in the semi final against Chesterfield, [2] a goal that could have been even more historic was ruled out when Festa's header in the 1997 FA Cup Final was deemed offside. That was one of three Wembley appearances he made in his first 18 months at the club.

Middlesbrough F.C. Association football club

Middlesbrough Football Club is a professional association football club based in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England. They are currently competing in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football. Formed in 1876, they have played at the Riverside Stadium since 1995, their third ground since turning professional in 1889. They played at the Linthorpe Road ground from 1882 to 1903 and at Ayresome Park for 92 years, from 1903 to 1995.

Premier League Association football league in England

The Premier League is the top level of the English football league system. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the English Football League (EFL).

Fabrizio Ravanelli Italian football player and manager

Fabrizio Ravanelli is an Italian football manager and former international footballer.

When many of Middlesbrough's players left following relegation, Festa stayed and helped win promotion back to the top flight. His performances earned him the Middlesbrough player of the year award in 1998. Festa was squeezed out by the arrivals of England internationals Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu but remained as a squad player. In his final season at Boro they again reached the FA Cup semi finals. This time they faced Arsenal. Festa came on as a substitute for the injured Ehiogu with the score poised at 0–0. However, he unfortunately scored an own goal which proved to be decisive, as Arsenal reached the final with a narrow 1–0 win. [3]

England national football team Mens association football team representing England

The England national football team represents England in senior men's international football and is controlled by The Football Association, the governing body for football in England. It competes in the three major international tournaments; the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Nations League. England, as a country of the United Kingdom, is not a member of the International Olympic Committee and therefore the national team does not compete at the Olympic Games.

Gareth Southgate English association football player and manager

Gareth Southgate is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a defender or as a midfielder. He is the manager of the England national team.

Ugo Ehiogu English association football player

Ugochuku Ehiogu was an English professional footballer who played as a centre back from 1989 to 2009. He was the coach of the Tottenham Hotspur U23 team until his death in April 2017.

Other memorable moments for Festa include scoring a late equaliser in a 3–3 draw with Southampton despite his team being reduced to 9 men, [4] and an equaliser against rivals Newcastle United. [5] In 2002 Festa left for a short spell at Portsmouth, where he scored once against Bradford City [6] and was part of the squad that won the Championship and gained promotion the Premier League.

Southampton F.C. Association football club

Southampton Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southampton, Hampshire, England, which plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football.

Portsmouth F.C. Association football club

Portsmouth Football Club is an English professional association football club in Portsmouth, Hampshire, which plays in EFL League One, the third tier of English football. The club was founded on 5 April 1898 and home matches are played at Fratton Park in Milton, Portsmouth.

In 2003, he returned to Sardinia, joining Cagliari and helping the rossoblu to win promotion to Serie A. In 2004, he joined then-Eccellenza side F.C. Nuorese Calcio, serving as team captain and leading the club to two consecutive promotions and an unsuccessful appearance in the Serie C2 campaign playoffs in his third season. He agreed to leave Nuorese by mutual consent on September 2007. [7] He then signed for Tavolara of Serie D, coached by his former teammate Vittorio Pusceddu. [8]

Sardinia Island in the Mediterranean and region of Italy

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of the Italian Peninsula and to the immediate south of the French island of Corsica.

Eccellenza is the fifth level of Italian football. It is a regional league, composed of 28 divisions divided geographically. All 20 regions are represented by at least one division except for Piedmont and Aosta Valley which share 2 divisions. Veneto, Tuscany, Sicily, Lazio, Emilia-Romagna and Campania also have 2 divisions each, while the region of Lombardy has 3 divisions.

Captain (association football) team captain of an association football team

The team captain of an association football team, sometimes known as the skipper, is a team member chosen to be the on-pitch leader of the team: it is often one of the older/or more experienced members of the squad, or a player that can heavily influence a game or have good leadership qualities. The team captain is usually identified by the wearing of an armband.

Style of play

Usually deployed as a central defender, Festa was known for his strength in the air, ability to organise the back-line, and his eye for goal as a defender, having scored at least once in every season of his career since the 1993–94 season. [9]

Coaching career

Cagliari Assistant

On 14 April 2010 he was appointed as assistant to newly appointed head coach Giorgio Melis at his former club Cagliari. [10] Later in the seasons 2010–11 and 2011–12 he has been the coach of Primavera in the same club.

Lumezzane head coach

On 14 June 2012 he was appointed the new head coach of Lumezzane in Lega Pro Prima Divisione. He left Lumezzane in March 2013 and was replaced as head coach by the Lumezzane captain Michele Marcolini.

Leeds United: Massimo Cellino Takeover

On 28 January, after Festa had been shown round Leeds training ground with prospective new owner Massimo Cellino, it is believed that Festa was ordered to go in the dugout for Leeds' game against Ipswich Town, this was refused by those at the club. [11]

On transfer deadline day 31 January 2014 he was tipped to replace Brian McDermott as new head coach of Leeds United, a decision which caused uproar amongst the club's fans.

With McDermott being reinstated as manager on 1 February during the second half of the Huddersfield Town match, on 3 February 2014 McDermott revealed in his press conference that Gianluca Festa had changed the starting lineup on Friday 31 January for the fixture against Huddersfield Town, only for the team to then be changed back again to the original starting lineup on Saturday 1 February by McDermott's assistant manager Nigel Gibbs. Festa watched the game from the stands with Nigel Gibbs taking Caretaker charge instead of Festa on Saturday lunchtime. McDermott also revealed that on February 3 that Festa was still present in training, however this time acting as a translator for new signing Andrea Tabanelli. Tabanelli was signed in between the window of McDermott's 'sacking' and his reinstatement. [12]

Return to Cagliari

Following Zdeněk Zeman's resignation, Festa was appointed as the new head coach of relegation-threatened Serie A side Cagliari on 22 April 2015, returning to the club he both played for and served as assistant manager. [13]

Despite winning a number of matches Festa was unable to prevent Cagliari being relegated to Serie B, and the end of the season Festa left the club and was replaced by Massimo Rastelli as the head coach. [14] [15]


On 1 November 2015 he was named new manager of Como in the Serie B. [16] He was sacked on 13 March 2016 with the club bottom of the Serie B. [17]

Larissa F.C.

On 24 September 2018 he was named new manager of Larissa F.C. in the Super League Greece. [18]

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  18. "Λάρισα: Νέος προπονητής ο Ιταλός Τζιανλούκα Φέστα" (in Greek). 24 September 2018.