For Gennaro Gattuso football is as much a physical battle as it is a psychological one. As intimidating on the pitch as he is approachable off it, Gattuso is a marauding midfielder who never shirks a challenge.
Modestly, if incorrectly, describing himself as a player lacking in technical gifts, the Milan man seeks to compensate for his perceived shortcomings by patrolling his midfield beat with boundless energy, tirelessly stealing the ball from opponents and expertly negating counter-attacks to buy time for his team-mates.
Calabria born and bred, Gattuso left the region at the age of 12 to join Perugia, where he made his first appearance in Serie A five years later. After failing to attract the attention of Italy's big clubs, he opted for a move to Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers, where he spent an eventful season alongside the likes of English magician Paul Gascoigne and earned the nickname Rhino.
Known back home as Ringhio (The Snarler), he returned to Italy to join AC Milan. His ability to steal possession from opponents, either in a central role or on the right side of midfield, made him a highly respected member of the Rossoneri side that won the UEFA Champions League in 2003 and the Italian championship a year later.
After representing his country at the Sydney 2000 Men's Olympic Football Tournament and helping to win the UEFA European Under-21 Championship that same year, he formed an integral part of the Italy sides that contested Korea/Japan 2002 and UEFA EURO 2004.
Gattuso remains a key component of the national team under Marcello Lippi and his near-telepathic partnership with Andrea Pirlo, a seamless combination of destroyer and creator, provides the fulcrum of the Italy team. The midfield terrier captained his country for the first time in a friendly against Greece last November.