Music

Rapper with gloves

Goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini chose the day he signed for Atalanta to release his first song. Neither he nor the club have missed a beat since

INTERVIEW Vieri Capretta | PHOTOGRAPHY Giorgio Perottino

Music helps you detach from everything. It brings you into a new world. It was a big help when I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.” The words of a musician – and goalkeeper. Atalanta No 1 Pierluigi Gollini’s football achievements certainly haven’t been at the expense of his creativity: in 2018 he released his first single, Rapper coi Guanti (Rapper with Gloves), under the name Gollorius.

“I wanted to do my own thing, to express my passion for football and music. For a few years I had been writing songs; now I have a studio near my house. I also did it because I don’t think there’s ever been a footballer who has released a rap song in Italy.”

The 25-year-old Italy international is sitting in La Marianna, a café in the heart of Bergamo. He is wearing a gold necklace featuring his initials and as we chat about music, you could forget he is a Champions League footballer. He is relaxed, easy to talk to. A few fans come over and he obliges with a selfie. Whether he’s talking football or music, he has no problem opening up – just as he does in his song.

“I rap about myself as a boy who believes in following his dreams in life,” says Gollini. “I made a lot of sacrifices as a child. I didn’t think of them as that at the time, because my only desire was to be a footballer, to become the best possible.” His single was released the day he signed for Atalanta, whose fans now sing it. “I gave all the proceeds from the single to fund a pitch in the area where I was born [in Bologna]. I did this because my personal story is the same as loads of children who want to play football, who dream of making it from the streets.”

Gollini’s own road to the top has come via England, where he spent two years in the Manchester United academy followed by a spell at Aston Villa (with a stint back in Italy at Verona in between). Musically, his tastes are also international. 

The gloves are off as Pierluigi Gollini talks music in Bergamo

“I began listening to Italians – Mondo Marcio, Fabri Fibra, Club Dogo – then more to Americans: Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, all of them. I listen to all genres – house, jazz. I like a lot of things apart from rock. In Italy I like old-school stuff: Gué Pequeno; I really like Marracash, he’s great. And then there are a lot of new young guys: Capo Plaza is really good.

“I also have a lot of friends in the rap world, they’re like brothers to me. Obviously with music there are songs you grow fonder of. For me it’s the ones where you look over the words that you see yourself in, so you obviously find something in common with them. In America, out of everyone probably Drake. I also like The Game, even though my favourite of all time is Notorious B.I.G.

“I started writing when I was around 19, 20 years old, so it was quite late on. Although I’ve always been really fascinated by that world, that’s when I started to think about doing something of my own. A lot of fans have congratulated me. The problem is that in Italy, sometimes people are a little closed. If you don’t play a great game, or if you make a mistake, they say, ‘Stick to singing.’ If you look at America, in the NBA, the NFL, they’re full of players who mix their passions – also in countries where football is popular.”

“I DON’T THINK THERE’S EVER BEEN A FOOTBALLER WHO HAS RELEASED A RAP SONG IN ITALY”

Gollorius might be tempted to pick up the mic again one day, but for the moment the focus is only on football. “I practically haven’t written anything in the past year because things are going well at Atalanta. It also depends on the moment: when you’re more down or when you’re really happy, those sorts of things come up. Every now and then, perhaps in summer. It’s an intense time: I am focused on football. You need to have respect for your profession. If, at the end of the season, there’s the chance to write music, why not?”

You can understand Gollini’s priorities: it’s not every day that Atalanta feature in the knockout stage of the Champions League. In fact, it’s never happened before. The 4-1 victory over Valencia in the first leg of the round of 16 at San Siro was just another milestone, strengthening the special bond between fans and players that has been at the heart of these rarefied times for the Bergamo club.

“After the Coppa Italia semi-final win last season I was with a friend, going home,” says Gollini. “Leaving the stadium, we stopped at a red light. Three or four fans came over, then more arrived. They climbed on the car and started shaking it – 50 people, maybe. I got out and sang the chants with them. My friend was worried because beer was going everywhere. But it was a beautiful scene, a great memory. The bond with the fans here is unique.” Unique– just like a rapper with goalkeeper gloves.

Music helps you detach from everything. It brings you into a new world. It was a big help when I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.” The words of a musician – and goalkeeper. Atalanta No 1 Pierluigi Gollini’s football achievements certainly haven’t been at the expense of his creativity: in 2018 he released his first single, Rapper coi Guanti (Rapper with Gloves), under the name Gollorius.

“I wanted to do my own thing, to express my passion for football and music. For a few years I had been writing songs; now I have a studio near my house. I also did it because I don’t think there’s ever been a footballer who has released a rap song in Italy.”

The 25-year-old Italy international is sitting in La Marianna, a café in the heart of Bergamo. He is wearing a gold necklace featuring his initials and as we chat about music, you could forget he is a Champions League footballer. He is relaxed, easy to talk to. A few fans come over and he obliges with a selfie. Whether he’s talking football or music, he has no problem opening up – just as he does in his song.

“I rap about myself as a boy who believes in following his dreams in life,” says Gollini. “I made a lot of sacrifices as a child. I didn’t think of them as that at the time, because my only desire was to be a footballer, to become the best possible.” His single was released the day he signed for Atalanta, whose fans now sing it. “I gave all the proceeds from the single to fund a pitch in the area where I was born [in Bologna]. I did this because my personal story is the same as loads of children who want to play football, who dream of making it from the streets.”

Gollini’s own road to the top has come via England, where he spent two years in the Manchester United academy followed by a spell at Aston Villa (with a stint back in Italy at Verona in between). Musically, his tastes are also international. 

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The gloves are off as Pierluigi Gollini talks music in Bergamo

“I began listening to Italians – Mondo Marcio, Fabri Fibra, Club Dogo – then more to Americans: Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, all of them. I listen to all genres – house, jazz. I like a lot of things apart from rock. In Italy I like old-school stuff: Gué Pequeno; I really like Marracash, he’s great. And then there are a lot of new young guys: Capo Plaza is really good.

“I also have a lot of friends in the rap world, they’re like brothers to me. Obviously with music there are songs you grow fonder of. For me it’s the ones where you look over the words that you see yourself in, so you obviously find something in common with them. In America, out of everyone probably Drake. I also like The Game, even though my favourite of all time is Notorious B.I.G.

“I started writing when I was around 19, 20 years old, so it was quite late on. Although I’ve always been really fascinated by that world, that’s when I started to think about doing something of my own. A lot of fans have congratulated me. The problem is that in Italy, sometimes people are a little closed. If you don’t play a great game, or if you make a mistake, they say, ‘Stick to singing.’ If you look at America, in the NBA, the NFL, they’re full of players who mix their passions – also in countries where football is popular.”

“I DON’T THINK THERE’S EVER BEEN A FOOTBALLER WHO HAS RELEASED A RAP SONG IN ITALY”

Gollorius might be tempted to pick up the mic again one day, but for the moment the focus is only on football. “I practically haven’t written anything in the past year because things are going well at Atalanta. It also depends on the moment: when you’re more down or when you’re really happy, those sorts of things come up. Every now and then, perhaps in summer. It’s an intense time: I am focused on football. You need to have respect for your profession. If, at the end of the season, there’s the chance to write music, why not?”

You can understand Gollini’s priorities: it’s not every day that Atalanta feature in the knockout stage of the Champions League. In fact, it’s never happened before. The 4-1 victory over Valencia in the first leg of the round of 16 at San Siro was just another milestone, strengthening the special bond between fans and players that has been at the heart of these rarefied times for the Bergamo club.

“After the Coppa Italia semi-final win last season I was with a friend, going home,” says Gollini. “Leaving the stadium, we stopped at a red light. Three or four fans came over, then more arrived. They climbed on the car and started shaking it – 50 people, maybe. I got out and sang the chants with them. My friend was worried because beer was going everywhere. But it was a beautiful scene, a great memory. The bond with the fans here is unique.” Unique– just like a rapper with goalkeeper gloves.

Music helps you detach from everything. It brings you into a new world. It was a big help when I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.” The words of a musician – and goalkeeper. Atalanta No 1 Pierluigi Gollini’s football achievements certainly haven’t been at the expense of his creativity: in 2018 he released his first single, Rapper coi Guanti (Rapper with Gloves), under the name Gollorius.

“I wanted to do my own thing, to express my passion for football and music. For a few years I had been writing songs; now I have a studio near my house. I also did it because I don’t think there’s ever been a footballer who has released a rap song in Italy.”

The 25-year-old Italy international is sitting in La Marianna, a café in the heart of Bergamo. He is wearing a gold necklace featuring his initials and as we chat about music, you could forget he is a Champions League footballer. He is relaxed, easy to talk to. A few fans come over and he obliges with a selfie. Whether he’s talking football or music, he has no problem opening up – just as he does in his song.

“I rap about myself as a boy who believes in following his dreams in life,” says Gollini. “I made a lot of sacrifices as a child. I didn’t think of them as that at the time, because my only desire was to be a footballer, to become the best possible.” His single was released the day he signed for Atalanta, whose fans now sing it. “I gave all the proceeds from the single to fund a pitch in the area where I was born [in Bologna]. I did this because my personal story is the same as loads of children who want to play football, who dream of making it from the streets.”

Gollini’s own road to the top has come via England, where he spent two years in the Manchester United academy followed by a spell at Aston Villa (with a stint back in Italy at Verona in between). Musically, his tastes are also international. 

The gloves are off as Pierluigi Gollini talks music in Bergamo

“I began listening to Italians – Mondo Marcio, Fabri Fibra, Club Dogo – then more to Americans: Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, all of them. I listen to all genres – house, jazz. I like a lot of things apart from rock. In Italy I like old-school stuff: Gué Pequeno; I really like Marracash, he’s great. And then there are a lot of new young guys: Capo Plaza is really good.

“I also have a lot of friends in the rap world, they’re like brothers to me. Obviously with music there are songs you grow fonder of. For me it’s the ones where you look over the words that you see yourself in, so you obviously find something in common with them. In America, out of everyone probably Drake. I also like The Game, even though my favourite of all time is Notorious B.I.G.

“I started writing when I was around 19, 20 years old, so it was quite late on. Although I’ve always been really fascinated by that world, that’s when I started to think about doing something of my own. A lot of fans have congratulated me. The problem is that in Italy, sometimes people are a little closed. If you don’t play a great game, or if you make a mistake, they say, ‘Stick to singing.’ If you look at America, in the NBA, the NFL, they’re full of players who mix their passions – also in countries where football is popular.”

“I DON’T THINK THERE’S EVER BEEN A FOOTBALLER WHO HAS RELEASED A RAP SONG IN ITALY”

Gollorius might be tempted to pick up the mic again one day, but for the moment the focus is only on football. “I practically haven’t written anything in the past year because things are going well at Atalanta. It also depends on the moment: when you’re more down or when you’re really happy, those sorts of things come up. Every now and then, perhaps in summer. It’s an intense time: I am focused on football. You need to have respect for your profession. If, at the end of the season, there’s the chance to write music, why not?”

You can understand Gollini’s priorities: it’s not every day that Atalanta feature in the knockout stage of the Champions League. In fact, it’s never happened before. The 4-1 victory over Valencia in the first leg of the round of 16 at San Siro was just another milestone, strengthening the special bond between fans and players that has been at the heart of these rarefied times for the Bergamo club.

“After the Coppa Italia semi-final win last season I was with a friend, going home,” says Gollini. “Leaving the stadium, we stopped at a red light. Three or four fans came over, then more arrived. They climbed on the car and started shaking it – 50 people, maybe. I got out and sang the chants with them. My friend was worried because beer was going everywhere. But it was a beautiful scene, a great memory. The bond with the fans here is unique.” Unique– just like a rapper with goalkeeper gloves.

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