Leonardo Araújo

This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Nascimento and the second or paternal family name is Araújo.
Personal information
Full name Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo
Date of birth (1969-09-05) 5 September 1969
Place of birth Niterói, Brazil
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder, Left winger, Left-back, Forward
Youth career
1984–1987 Flamengo
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1990 Flamengo 52 (0)
1990–1991 São Paulo 44 (1)
1991–1993 Valencia 70 (7)
1993–1994 São Paulo 12 (3)
1994–1996 Kashima Antlers 49 (30)
1996–1997 Paris Saint-Germain 34 (7)
1997–2001 Milan 96 (22)
2001 São Paulo 13 (0)
2002 Flamengo 0 (0)
2002–2003 Milan 1 (0)
Total 371 (70)
National team
1989 Brazil U20 6 (1)
1990–2002 Brazil 55 (7)
Teams managed
2009–2010 Milan
2010–2011 Internazionale

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo, known as Leonardo (born 5 September 1969), is a football manager and a former player. A versatile player, he played in several positions throughout his career, including as an attacking midfielder, left winger, and left-back. He is currently active as director of football of French club Paris Saint-Germain. Throughout his club career, he played for teams in Brazil, Spain, Japan, France and Italy, winning titles with Flamengo, São Paulo, Kashima Antlers and Milan. Following his retirement, he also served as a manager for Italian side Milan, and successively as manager of crosstown rivals Internazionale, where he won a Coppa Italia title in 2011.

A former Brazil international, he played in the 1994 World Cup winning side, as well as the team that finished runners-up in the 1998 edition of the tournament. He also represented his nation in two Copa América tournaments, reaching the final in 1995, and winning the title in 1997, also claiming the FIFA Confederations Cup in the same year.

Early and personal life

Leonardo was born and raised in Niterói, Brazil.

Divorced from his first wife with whom he had three children (one boy, two girls), he is engaged to Sky Italia presenter Anna Billó, with whom he has a son.[1]

Club career

Leonardo began his career with the Brazilian club Flamengo in 1987; at just 17, he was given the opportunity to play with his hero Zico plus Leandro, Bebeto and Renato Gaúcho, and to take part in winning his first Brazilian championship. In 1990, Leonardo signed with São Paulo FC, and in 1991, Leonardo, Raí, and other young talents were assembled as part of the so-called 'esquadrão tricolor' ("three-coloured squad") under the command of Brazilian legend Telê Santana, giving Leonardo his second Brazilian championship.

Later that year, he made the switch to European football, signing with the Spanish club Valencia. After two seasons with Valencia, he returned to Brazil for a brief stint with São Paulo in 1993, during which time the team won several titles, including the prestigious Copa Libertadores and International Cup.

In 1994, after the World Cup, Leonardo signed with the Kashima Antlers of the newly formed Japanese J1 League. Leonardo continued his success in Kashima, again playing with his idol and friend Zico. In 1996, he returned to Europe, this time signing with French club Paris Saint-Germain, where he again proved to be successful, one of his goals helping them to oust Liverpool out of the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

At this point in his career, Leonardo had mostly stopped playing as a left-back and moved into the midfield, sometimes on the left flank, as a winger and sometimes in the centre, as an advanced playmaker, or as a supporting striker, due to his technical skills, vision and tactical intelligence.[2] Already in Japan, this had resulted in some spectacular goals[3] for Leonardo, a trend which continued in Europe.

In the summer of 1997, he signed with Italian team Milan for €8.5 million from PSG. With Milan, he became a prominent part of a star-studded lineup on the left wing. He played four full seasons with the club, winning the 1998–99 Serie A title, in which he played a key role with his prolific performances, scoring 12 goals. In total, he scored 22 goals[4] in 177 games for Milan, before returning to Brazil with São Paulo and Flamengo. He later returned to Milan and finished his career with the team in 2003, winning the 2002–03 Coppa Italia title.[2][5]

National team career

Leonardo was part of the Brazil under-20 team that placed thrird in 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship. He made his full international debut for Brazil in 1990. He was selected as a left-back for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, keeping the young Roberto Carlos out of the team, much to the latter's chagrin. Leonardo played well in the first games but was then given a four-match suspension for elbowing the American midfielder Tab Ramos, resulting in a broken malar bone. The stricken Ramos had to stay in hospital for three-and-a-half months afterwards. Leonardo's suspension prevented him from participating in the remainder of the competition. It was the second longest ban imposed in World Cup history, after Mauro Tassotti's eight-game suspension for breaking the nose of Luis Enrique at the same tournament. In 1995, he took part in the Copa América with Brazil, where the team reached the final.

In 1997, Leonardo was given the number 10 shirt for the national team. He was an important member of the team that won the Copa América in 1997, and also won the FIFA Confederations Cup later that year.

Leonardo played all seven games in his second World Cup, helping Brazil to a second-place finish. In the second opening round match against Morocco, he netted one shot and began celebrating, but was later called off-side. He was last selected to play for Brazil in the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign and ended his career with 60 caps and 8 goals for Brazil.

Post-playing career

Since 2002, Leonardo has dedicated himself to social works with the Fundação Gol de Letra, along with his friend, former player Raí.

Leonardo worked for BBC Television in the United Kingdom during the 2006 World Cup as one of their Match of the Day analysts, alongside another former World Cup winner, Marcel Desailly. He appeared again as a Match of the Day analyst on 1 June 2007 alongside Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer. This was the first England game at the new Wembley Stadium finishing 1–1 with Brazil.

Since Leonardo stopped playing for Milan, he has become a sort of combination of scout and agent for the club in Brazil and the great respect he enjoys in his homeland has helped Milan to land several world-class players. He was instrumental in the process of bringing Kaká to Milan and in July 2007 it was revealed that Leonardo had been one of the main factors in convincing Alexandre Pato to sign for Milan.

Coaching career

In December 2007, Leonardo was interviewed for the vacant position of director of football at English Premier League side West Ham United.[6]


In early 2008, Leonardo was appointed technical director of his former club Milan. Later that same year, he obtained Italian citizenship after 12 years in Italy as a resident.[7]

After Carlo Ancelotti left Milan to become the manager of Chelsea at the end of May 2009, Leonardo was named head coach of Milan[8][9] despite still lacking the required coaching badges (he was set to attend a UEFA A coaching course on June 2009).[10] He was, however, exempted from requiring a UEFA Pro license, which is mandatory for Serie A managers, due to being a former World Cup winner as a player.[11] Leonardo wasted no time in declaring that he wanted his team to play attractive attacking football, even invoking the name of his old mentor, Telê Santana.[12]

After a poor start of season, featuring a shock 0–4 loss to crosstown rivals Internazionale, that started speculation about his possible dismissal from the head coaching post at Milan, results started improving for the rossoneri under Leonardo, also thanks to the application of a 4–2–1–3 tactic (nicknamed also "4–2–fantasy" by Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani). This tactic, quite unusual in Italian football and greatly focusing on creative players such as Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo and Clarence Seedorf, led Milan to improved results at both Serie A and UEFA Champions League level, including a remarkable 3–2 win at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium against Real Madrid and a 3–0 away win to Juventus which enabled Leonardo's side to finish in second place at the half-way point of the season, six points shy of leaders Inter with a game in hand. However, the path to the Champions League final was halted prematurely as Milan were eliminated in the first knockout round by Manchester United in a 2–7 aggregate loss (2–3, 0–4).

In the final weeks of the season, it was speculated that Leonardo could leave Milan at the end of the season. In April 2010, Leonardo confirmed divergences with club owner and Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, defining their relationship as "difficult".[13] It was confirmed that Leonardo would leave Milan by mutual agreement after their season ending game against Juventus.[14] Leonardo waved an emotional goodbye to a packed San Siro, as he managed his side's last game with a 3–0 win against Juventus.


On 24 December 2010, after days of speculation, it was confirmed Leonardo would take over as head coach of fresh FIFA Club World Cup champions Internazionale, replacing Rafael Benítez in a somewhat controversial move, due to the Brazilian's long career with rivals Milan as both player and manager; he agreed an 18-month contract due to expire on 30 June 2012.[15] Leonardo started extremely well, collecting 30 points from 12 games with an average of 2.5 points per game, better than his predecessors Benítez and José Mourinho. On 6 March 2011, Leonardo set a new Italian Serie A record by collecting 33 points in 13 games; the previous record was 32 points in 13 games, achieved by Fabio Capello in 2004–05.

On 15 March 2011, Leonardo led Inter to a memorable 3–2 Champions League away victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the Round of 16 after losing the first leg at home. On 2 April 2011, Internazionale lost 3–0 against their fierce rivals Milan, and when Inter, two weeks later, lost 2–0 against relegation battlers Parma, the club's title ambitions had effectively ended. On 6 April, Inter lost 2–5 to Schalke 04 in the quarter finals of the Champions League. On 29 May 2011, Internazionale defeated Palermo 3–1 to give Leonardo his first and only trophy as a manager of Inter, the Coppa Italia. He resigned from Internazionale on 18 June.

Director career

Paris Saint-Germain

In June 2011, speculation arose about the future of Leonardo at Inter after some media cited about talks between him and the new Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain, where Leonardo already spent one season as a player in 1996–97. Following that, Inter president Massimo Moratti began searching a replacement for Leonardo, then hiring former Genoa boss Gian Piero Gasperini as new head coach and releasing Leonardo from his contract thereafter.

In July 2011, Leonardo was then introduced as new director of football of PSG, being responsible for the club's major transfer market decisions. His first signings included several high-profile players from Serie A, such as Jérémy Ménez, Mohamed Sissoko, Salvatore Sirigu, Javier Pastore and Thiago Motta, and was the mastermind behind the appointment of his friend Carlo Ancelotti as head coach of PSG.

On 10 July 2013, he tendered his resignation as sporting director and left the French champions at the end of August.

Style of play

An extremely versatile left-footed midfielder, Leonardo was capable of playing in several positions along the pitch; his favoured role was as a playmaker in midfield, either as a left winger, or in a more central role, as an attacking midfielder or as a supporting striker, due to his ability to create chances for team-mates, although he was also capable of functioning as a deep-lying playmaker, as a forward, and was even deployed as left-back or wing-back throughout his career, in particular in his youth. An elegant and creative player, Leonardo was mainly known for his outstanding technical skills, as well as his vision, and tactical intelligence as a footballer, although he was capable of scoring goals, as well as assisting them, due to his accuracy from set-pieces and powerful striking ability from distance. Despite his talent and reputation as one of the best Brazilian footballers of his generation, he was also often injury prone throughout his career.[2][5][16]

Career statistics


Season Club League League Cup Continental Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1987FlamengoSérie A 180------180
1988 180--30220430
1989 1608010201451
1990 --43--210253
1990São PauloSérie A 220------220
1991 221------221
1991–92ValenciaLa Liga 364103----467
1992–93 3434020--403
1993São PauloSérie A 123--5210185
1994 ----112392410
1994Kashima AntlersJ1 League 9710----107
1995 281731----3118
1996 126105----2211
1996–97Paris Saint-GermainDivision 1 3272093--4310
1997–98 20--10--30
1997–98MilanSerie A 27351----324
1998–99 271220----2912
1999–00 2041151--266
2000–01 2235251--326
2001São PauloSérie A 130----50180
2002FlamengoSérie A ----106171
2002–03MilanSerie A 1042----52
Career totals 3717059183389811561107

National team


Brazil national team
Year Apps Goals
1990 20
1991 30
1992 --
1993 20
1994 90
1995 72
1996 30
1997 174
1998 80
1999 21
2000 --
2001 20
Total 557

Managerial statistics

As of 30 May 2011.
Team From To Competition Record
G W D L Win % GF GA GD
Milan 1 June 2009 16 May 2010 Serie A 38 20 10 8 52.63 60 39 +21
Coppa Italia 2 1 0 1 50.00 2 2 0
Europe 8 2 3 3 25.00 10 14 –4
Total 48 23 13 12 47.92 72 55 +17
Internazionale 29 December 2010 1 July 2011 Serie A 23 17 2 4 73.91 49 18 +31
Coppa Italia 5 3 2 0 60.00 8 4 +4
Europe 4 1 0 3 25.00 6 10 –4
Total 32 21 4 7 65.63 63 32 +31
Career totals League 61 37 12 12 60.66 109 57 +52
Cup 7 4 2 1 57.14 10 6 +4
Europe 12 3 3 6 25.00 16 24 –8
Total 80 44 17 19 55.00 135 87 +48




São Paulo
Kashima Antlers







  1. "Leonardo proposes to presenter girlfriend live on Italian television". Yahoo Sports. 15 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Leonardo De Araujo". acmilan.com. A.C. Milan. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  3. Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo – AMAZING GOAL YouTube
  4. Leonardo Araujo Milan YouTube
  5. 1 2 "Nascimento de Araujo LEONARDO" (in Italian). MagliaRossonera.it. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  6. Hammers target Leonardo Mirror.co.uk, 5 December 2007
  7. "Leonardo è cittadino italiano" (in Italian). La Gazzetta dello Sport. 17 December 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  8. Ancelotti leaves job at AC Milan BBC Sport, 1 June 2009
  9. ARRIVEDERCI CARLETTO! A.C. Milan, 2 June 2009
  10. "Ammessi Corso Seconda Cat. Uefa A 2008/2009" (in Italian). Settore Tecnico FIGC. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  11. "Serie A – Nuova era Milan, benvenuto Leonardo!" (in Italian). Yahoo! Eurosport. 1 June 2009. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  12. Leonardo Wants Milan To Play Attacking Football goal.com, 2 June 2009
  13. "Coach Leonardo unsure over his future with A.C. Milan". BBC Sport. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  14. Leonardo Confirms He Will Leave Milan – OFFICIAL goal.com, 14 May 2010
  15. "Benvenuto!: Leonardo allenatore dell'Inter" (in Italian). F.C. Internazionale Milano. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  16. Paolo Menicucci (6 July 2009). "Leonardo backs Milan talent". UEFA.com. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  17. Leonardo Araújo at National-Football-Teams.com
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