- Laura Giuliani worked as a baker to facilitate a football career
- The Italy goalkeeper says writing and yoga help her relax
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By Sonja Nikcevic with Italy
Several goalkeepers have monopolised match headlines at this FIFA Women’s World Cup™. One, however, has gone under the radar, despite making terrific saves and conceding just two goals – and zero from open play – in four appearances for an unfancied side.
Laura Giuliani, calm and self-effacing, is happy with that – and with Italy’s fairytale flight into a quarter-final against the Netherlands. And she sees no reason Le Azzurre can’t reach the competition’s semi-finals for the first time.
“If we’ve made it this far, it would be a shame to believe we can’t make it further,” Giuliani said. “There’s always that something that never happens until it does.
“We have to put in a lot of work to make it happen. We will keep dreaming and remain on the path we’re on, because everything that’s come has been deserved."
Off the pitch, Giuliani keeps herself in the right mindset by doing yoga, drawing and, most of all, writing.
“The [goalkeeping] role is specific because you have to go through so much all on your own,” she explained. “In between matches, I often find myself with so many things on my mind. When I feel like a ticking time bomb, that’s when I take a blank piece of paper, start writing, and never stop.”
Giuliani represents Juventus, but nurtured her game during five seasons in Germany, where she supported herself financially by working in a bakery.
“When I went to Gutersloh in 2012, my salary wasn’t high enough for me to live off,” she said. “I had to make a decision, and being a baker was the only work I could do early in the morning, which allowed me to train in the afternoon.
“Afterwards, when I moved to Freiburg, I didn’t have to work, but I chose to – in cafes or as a caterer. It was a personal decision then – working at the same time as playing football was always a way to get out of a routine, to have a different outlook.”
Giuliani saved a penalty from Australia ace Sam Kerr on her Women’s World Cup debut, and turned heads with a fantastic save from Brazil’s Debinha, which helped Italy progress as Group C winners on goal difference.
“It was a great save, but I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to let mistakes happen,” she said. “I’d much rather use my positioning to prevent a shot than have to go and fix it and make a spectacular save.”
The key to her positioning is Italy’s goalkeeping coach Cristiano Viotti, with whom she has been working on staying on her line at penalties.
“We have been working on this quite a lot – we’ve tried different movements and different saves, me trying to make saves and [Cristiano] watching me from the line to see if my feet stay on it,” she said.
Together, they also study the positioning of opposition forwards, so Giuliani knows where the biggest danger comes from. But in the moment, she always relies on her own gut feeling.
“My saves so far haven’t been a coincidence – it’s all things we’ve studied. But football isn’t an exact science, and I am out there on my own. The feeling I have at a given moment goes above anything we might have agreed before.”