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Roberto "Robbie" di Matteo (born 29 May 1970 in Schaffhausenmarker, Canton of Schaffhausenmarker) is a Swissmarker-born Italian former professional footballer and current manager of West Bromwich Albion having been unveiled on 30 June 2009. As a midfielder, he enjoyed spells at FC Schaffhausen, FC Zürich, FC Aarau, Lazio, and Chelsea. He was capped by Italy 34 times, scoring two goals for the Italian national team, and played for them in the UEFA Euro 1996 and 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Playing career

Switzerland and Italy

Born in Switzerlandmarker to Italian parents, Di Matteo began his career with Swiss club Schaffhausen, before joining FC Zürich in 1991 and FC Aarau a year later. He won the Swiss Nationalliga A with Aarau in 1993 and in the same season was awarded Switzerland's Player of the Year award. He signed for Lazio in the summer of 1993 on a free transfer. Di Matteo became a regular in the Lazio side and made his debut for Italy during his time with the Rome giants for three seasons. However, a falling out with coach Zdeněk Zeman over a defensive error which resulted in a loss to Internazionale, ended his career with the club. As a result he was signed by Ruud Gullit for English side Chelsea for a then club record fee of £4.9m.

Chelsea

Di Matteo made an impressive start to his Chelsea career, scoring the winner against Middlesbrough on his home debut. His passing ability and accurate long-distance shooting saw him become one of the driving forces of Chelsea's resurgence in the late 1990s. He contributed nine goals in his first season, including long-range efforts against both Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon. He helped the club finish 6th in the league, their highest placing since 1989-90, and reach the 1997 FA Cup Final at Wembley. Within 43 seconds of the kick-off, Di Matteo scored from 30 yards, to set Chelsea on their way to a 2–0 win. This was the quickest goal scored in a cup final at the old Wembley.

The following season he again proved his worth to the team, chipping in with ten goals and numerous assists, as Chelsea went on to claim the Football League Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, their first European honour since 1971. In the League Cup final, again against Middlesbrough, Di Matteo scored the second goal in a 2-0 win. Season 1998-99 turned out to be a special season for Chelsea as they went on an unbeaten run of over 20 games to finish third in the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League. Di Matteo played a pivotal role in midfield next to Gustavo Poyet, Dennis Wise and Dan Petrescu and scored some memorable goals, among them a strike against Coventry City in the dying seconds of the game.

During the 1999-00 season he was hampered by injury but returned late in the season to score a handful of crucial goals, including his third Cup-winning goal at Wembley, once again in the FA Cup. In a dour match, Di Matteo capitalised on an error by Aston Villa goalkeeper David James to score the winner in the 71st minute, handing Chelsea their fourth major trophy in three years. This lead Di Matteo to comment on the old Wembley Stadium saying "It's a shame they're tearing the old place down - it has been a very lucky ground for me".

Early into the 2000-01 season, Di Matteo sustained a triple leg fracture in a UEFA Cup tie against Swissmarker side FC St. Gallen and spent the next eighteen months on the sidelines. He eventually gave up on his comeback and retired in February 2002 at the age of 31. In his six years at Chelsea, he made 175 appearances and scored 26 goals. He was selected in the squad of Chelsea's greatest ever XI, and former manager Claudio Ranieri handed him the honour of leading the Chelsea team out in the 2002 FA Cup final, which Chelsea went on to lose 2-0 to rivals Arsenal. Di Matteo still occasionally returns to Chelsea for promotional purposes on match days and also to use the new gym at the Cobhammarker training base.

Management career

Milton Keynes Dons

In July 2008, Di Matteo was appointed as Milton Keynes Dons new manager after Paul Ince left to join Blackburn Roversmarker. He in turn appointed former Chelsea colleague Eddie Newton as his assistant and Ade Mafe, who appeared at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and worked at Chelsea during Di Matteo's time there, as his fitness coach. He began qualifying for his UEFA coaching licences while still playing - completing his "B" licence during his time with Chelsea. In his first season with MK Dons, he led them to third place in Coca-Cola League One behind Leicester and Peterborough. They lost in the play-offs semi-finals against Scunthorpe. It was 1–1 in the first leg and 0–0 in the second at stadium:mk. The Dons lost 7–6 on penalties.

West Bromwich Albion

He joined West Bromwich Albion in June 2009 in the newly-created role of head coach.

Honours as a player

FC Aarau


S.S. Lazio


Chelsea F.C.


Managerial Statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
MK Dons 2 July 2008 30 June 2009 52 27 11 14
West Bromwich Albion 30 June 2009 Present 8 6 2 0
Total 60 33 13 14


Personal life

Di Matteo currently lives in Leamington Spamarker, Warwickshiremarker with his wife Zoe and two children.

References



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