Leonardo Araújo

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Leonardo in 2013
Personal information
Full name Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo
Date of birth (1969-09-05) 5 September 1969 (age 54)
Place of birth Niterói, Brazil
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position(s) Attacking midfielder, left winger, left-back
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 AC Milan 96 (22)
2001 São Paulo 13 (0)
2002 Flamengo 0 (0)
2002–2003 AC Milan 1 (0)
Total 371 (70)
International career
1989 Brazil U20 6 (1)
1990–2001 Brazil 55 (7)
Managerial career
2009–2010 AC Milan
2010–2011 Inter Milan
2017 Antalyaspor
Medal record
Men's Football
Representing  Brazil
FIFA World Cup
Winner 1994 USA
Runner-up 1998 France
FIFA Confederations Cup
Winner 1997 Saudi Arabia
Copa América
Winner 1997 Bolivia
Runner-up 1995 Uruguay
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Third place 1989 Saudi Arabia
U-20 South American Championship
Winner 1988 Argentina
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Leonardo Nascimento de Araújo (born 5 September 1969), known as Leonardo Araújo or simply Leonardo, is a Brazilian football executive and former player and manager. He last served as the sporting director of Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain until May 2022.

A versatile player, Leonardo was employed in several positions throughout his career, including as an attacking midfielder, left winger, and left-back; his best-known and most successful period was at AC Milan, in the role of attacking midfielder (or trequartista) behind the forwards.[1] He played for teams in Brazil, Spain, Japan, France and Italy, winning titles with Flamengo, São Paulo, Kashima Antlers and Milan.

A former Brazil international, Leonardo 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.

Following his retirement, Leonardo also served as a coach for Italian side Milan, and successively as coach of crosstown rivals Inter Milan, where he won a Coppa Italia title in 2011. From 2011 to 2013, he was sporting director of his former club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). He coached Antalyaspor in 2017 before returning to Milan as sporting director in 2018. In 2019, Leonardo returned to PSG as sporting director, until he was sacked in 2022.

Early and personal life

Leonardo was born and raised in Niterói, Brazil.[citation needed]

Divorced from his first wife with whom he had three children (one boy, two girls), he is married to Sky Italia presenter Anna Billó, with whom he has two sons.[2][3][4]

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.[citation needed] In 1990, Leonardo signed with São Paulo, 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.[citation needed]

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 Intercontinental Cup.[citation needed]

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 (PSG), 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.[citation needed]

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.[1] Already in Japan, this had resulted in some spectacular goals for Leonardo, a trend which continued in Europe.[citation needed]

In the summer of 1997, he signed with Italian team AC 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 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.[1][5]

International career

Leonardo was part of the Brazil under-20 team that placed third in the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.[citation needed] 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 in the head, causing a skull fracture that hospitalized him for three and a half months.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 international career in 2002 with 60 caps and 8 goals for Brazil.[citation needed]

Style of play

A 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 teammates, although he was also capable of functioning as a central midfielder, in a deep-lying playmaking role, 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 regarded for his outstanding technical skills, as well as his vision, and tactical intelligence as a footballer, which made him an excellent assist provider, although he was capable of scoring goals, as well as creating them, due to his accuracy from set-pieces and powerful striking ability from distance, and was known to be a specialist from dead ball situations. Despite his talent and reputation as one of the best Brazilian men's footballers of his generation, he was also often injury prone throughout his career.[1][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Outside football

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

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.[citation needed]

Coaching career


In December 2007, Leonardo was interviewed for the vacant position of director of football at Premier League side West Ham United.[11]

AC Milan

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

After Carlo Ancelotti left Milan to become the manager of Chelsea at the end of May 2009, Leonardo was named head coach of Milan[13][14] despite still lacking the required coaching badges (he was set to attend a UEFA A coaching course in June 2009).[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

After a poor start of season, featuring a shock 0–4 loss to crosstown rivals Inter Milan, 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).[citation needed]

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".[18] It was confirmed that Leonardo would leave Milan by mutual agreement after their season ending game against Juventus.[19] 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.[citation needed]

Inter Milan

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 Inter Milan, 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.[20] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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 5–2 to Schalke 04 in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. On 29 May 2011, Inter defeated Palermo 3–1 to give Leonardo his first and only trophy as a manager of Inter, the Coppa Italia. He resigned on 18 June.[citation needed]

Executive career

Paris Saint-Germain

In June 2011, speculation arose about the future of Leonardo at Inter Milan 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 the 1996–97 season. Following that, Inter Milan 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

In May 2013, Leonardo was banned for nine months, after he was accused of pushing a referee at the end of a game against Valenciennes in which Thiago Silva was sent off.[21] The ban was extended to 13 months in July 2013. On 10 July, he tendered his resignation as sporting director and left the French champions at the end of August.[22] His ban was overturned in June 2014 by the Paris Administrative Tribunal, at which point he announced that he would sue the French Football Federation for "professional" and "moral" damages.[23][24]

AC Milan

In July 2018, following a change of ownership at Milan and the removal of Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli from their respective roles as managing director and director of football, the club's new owners Elliott Management Corporation announced the appointment of Leonardo as their new sporting director.[25] In his capacity, he also serves as director of football and supervised the captures of Gonzalo Higuaín and Mattia Caldara from Juventus as his first two signings.[26][27]

In December 2018, he obtained his sporting director diploma through the Coverciano Technical Centre.[28]

Return to Paris Saint-Germain

On 1 July 2019, it was announced that Leonardo would be the new sporting director of Paris Saint-Germain following his departure from Milan on mutual consent.[29]

In the 2019–20 season, Leonardo made several signings for PSG, including Abdou Diallo, Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye, Mauro Icardi, Pablo Sarabia, and Keylor Navas. The club went on to complete a domestic treble and finish runner-up in the UEFA Champions League, a first final for Paris.[30]

In May 2022, Leonardo was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain. Despite his successful attempts at convincing Neymar to stay in Paris, Leonardo is generally viewed by observers as having had a net negative impact on PSG's development during his second spell as sporting director.[31]

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Flamengo 1987 Série A 18 0 18 0
1988 18 0 3 0 22 0 43 0
1989 16 0 8 0 1 0 20 1 45 1
1990 4 3 21 0 25 3
Total 52 0 12 3 4 0 63 1 131 4
São Paulo 1990 Série A 22 0 22 0
1991 22 1 22 1
Total 44 1 44 1
Valencia 1991–92 La Liga 36 4 10 3 46 7
1992–93 34 3 4 0 2[a] 0 40 3
Total 70 7 14 3 2 0 86 10
São Paulo 1993 Série A 12 3 5 2 1 0 18 5
1994 1 1 23 9 24 10
Total 12 3 6 3 24 9 42 15
Kashima Antlers 1994 J1 League 9 7 1 0 10 7
1995 28 17 3 1 31 18
1996 12 6 10 5 22 11
Total 49 30 14 6 63 36
Paris Saint-Germain 1996–97 Division 1 32 7 2 0 7[b] 3 2[c] 0 43 10
1997–98 2 0 1[d] 0 3 0
Total 34 7 2 0 8 3 2 0 46 13
Milan 1997–98 Serie A 27 3 5 1 32 4
1998–99 27 12 2 0 29 12
1999–2000 20 4 1 1 5[d] 1 0 0 26 6
2000–01 22 3 5 2 5[d] 1 32 6
Total 96 22 13 4 10 2 0 0 119 28
São Paulo 2001 Série A 13 0 5 0 18 0
Flamengo 2002 Série A 1 0 6 1 7 1
Milan 2002–03 Serie A 1 0 4 2 5 2
Career total 371 70 59 18 31 8 100 11 561 107
  1. ^ Appearances in UEFA Cup
  2. ^ Appearances in UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
  3. ^ Appearances in UEFA Super Cup
  4. ^ a b c Appearance(s) in UEFA Champions League


Appearances and goals by national team and year[32]
National team Year Apps Goals
Brazil 1990 2 0
1991 3 0
1993 2 0
1994 9 0
1995 7 2
1996 3 0
1997 17 4
1998 8 0
1999 2 1
2001 2 0
Total 55 7

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 8 052.63 60 39 +21
Coppa Italia 2 1 0 1 050.00 2 2 0
Europe 8 2 3 3 025.00 10 14 –4
Total 48 23 13 12 047.92 72 55 +17
Internazionale 29 December 2010 1 July 2011 Serie A 23 17 2 4 073.91 49 18 +31
Coppa Italia 5 3 2 0 060.00 8 4 +4
Europe 4 1 0 3 025.00 6 10 –4
Total 32 21 4 7 065.63 63 32 +31
Career totals League 61 37 12 12 060.66 109 57 +52
Cup 7 4 2 1 057.14 10 6 +4
Europe 12 3 3 6 025.00 16 24 –8
Total 80 44 17 19 055.00 135 87 +48




São Paulo

Kashima Antlers

AC Milan




Inter Milan

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "A.C. Milan Hall of Fame: Leonardo De Araujo". acmilan.com. A.C. Milan. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Leonardo proposes to presenter girlfriend live on Italian television". Yahoo! Sports. 15 March 2013. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Leonardo et Anna Billó : Mariage discret devant Ronaldo et Eros Ramazzotti". Purepeople. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Anna Billò: "A casa non si vive solo di calcio"". TV Sorrisi e Canzoni (in Italian). 23 August 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Nascimento de Araujo LEONARDO" (in Italian). MagliaRossonera.it. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  6. ^ Paolo Menicucci (6 July 2009). "Leonardo backs Milan talent". UEFA. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  7. ^ Germano Bovolenta; Luigi Garlando; Giampietro Agus (31 August 1997). "Leonardo si e' gia' preso il Milan". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  8. ^ Lodovico Maradei (14 March 1999). "Brilla soltanto Leonardo". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  9. ^ Alessandra Bocci (14 October 1998). "questo Milan punisce poco". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  10. ^ Andrea Masala (5 March 1998). "Leonardo, che fatica crescere". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  11. ^ Hammers target Leonardo Mirror.co.uk, 5 December 2007
  12. ^ "Leonardo è cittadino italiano". La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). 17 December 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
  13. ^ Ancelotti leaves job at AC Milan BBC Sport, 1 June 2009
  14. ^ ARRIVEDERCI CARLETTO! Archived 11 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine A.C. Milan, 2 June 2009
  15. ^ "Ammessi Corso Seconda Cat. Uefa A 2008/2009" (in Italian). Settore Tecnico FIGC. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ Leonardo Wants Milan To Play Attacking Football goal.com, 2 June 2009
  18. ^ "Coach Leonardo unsure over his future with A.C. Milan". BBC Sport. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  19. ^ Leonardo Confirms He Will Leave Milan – OFFICIAL goal.com, 14 May 2010
  20. ^ "Benvenuto!: Leonardo allenatore dell'Inter" (in Italian). F.C. Internazionale Milano. 24 December 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  21. ^ Mason, Peter (30 May 2013). "Paris Saint-Germain's Leonardo gets nine-month ban for barging referee". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  22. ^ "PSG's Leonardo to quit at end of transfer window". Ahram Online. Reuters. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Brazilian Leonardo demands $9.1 mn from French Football Federation". Business Standard. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Brazil's Leonardo demands $9.1 mn from French Federation". EFE. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Leonardo Is Back Home". A.C. Milan. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Higuain and Caldara in Focus". A.C. Milan. 2 August 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  27. ^ "Leonardo: "Having a player like Higuain increases Milan's appeal, Caldara has the potential to be as good as Bonucci"". EatFootball. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  28. ^ "Direttore Sportivo: tutti i nomi degli allievi diplomati al corso di Coverciano" (in Italian). FIGC. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  29. ^ "Leonardo fait son retour au PSG en tant que directeur sportif". Le Monde.fr (in French). 14 June 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  30. ^ "Bayern Munich beat PSG 1-0 to win Champions League final". France 24. 23 August 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  31. ^ "Leonardo sacked by PSG | Get French Football News". www.getfootballnewsfrance.com. 22 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  32. ^ Leonardo Araújo at National-Football-Teams.com
  33. ^ "Il Golden Foot 2018 è Edinson Cavani" (in Italian). radiomontecarlo.net. Retrieved 6 December 2018.

External links