Born 6th September 1973, Milan, Italy
Current club: Chelsea.
Previous clubs: AC Milan, Prato, Lazio, Castel Di Sangro.
Despite a promising start - making numerous appearances for his country at under-18 and under-21 level, and signing for his beloved AC Milan at the age of 21 - Carlo Cudicini's career didn't really take off until he left Italy. His father, Fabio Cudicini, was also a goalkeeper; in his day, playing for AC Milan and Roma, he was nicknamed The Black Spider, and, despite the fact that he never really made the breakthrough into the national side, is something of a legend in Italian football.
Carlo signed for AC Milan in 1994, a dream come true for the young man; but a career-threatening wrist injury effectively ended his stay at Milan, and in 1995 he moved Prato, then playing in in Serie C. He performed respectably there, and after one season, he returned to Serie A, signing for Lazio, the other Roman team. Fourteen appearances during the '96-'97 season ensued, but this run was cut short by another injury, to his knee; by the time he had recovered, Lazio had a new manager, a Swede named Sven Goran Eriksson, who preferred to have a more experienced 'keeper, and so Carlo returned to the lower divisions, to Castel di Sangro in Serie B, for two years.
During 1999, Italian legend Gianluca Vialli took Cudicini on loan to Chelsea; although he only made one appearance in the '99-2000 season, Vialli made the deal permanent in the summer of 2000, paying a mere £160,000 sterling for Carlo's services, as an understudy to giant Dutch 'keeper Ed de Goey. Claudio Ranieri replaced Vialli as Chelsea manager in September 2000, which coincided with an injury to de Goey; this gave Carlo a chance to establish himself in the Chelsea line-up, and he grasped it with both hands, making a further 25 appearances in the '00-'01 season.
At the start of 2001, Chelsea signed Australian 'keeper Mark Bosnich from Manchester United, to give Cudicini some extra competition; Bosnich performed very respectably when Cudicini was injured, but Bosnich picked up an injury himself, coinciding with Cudicini's return to fitness, and Bosnich never played for Chelsea again. Despite Ranieri's now notorious policy of squad rotation (earning him the nickname of The Tinkerman, which he accepted in good humour), Cudicini has been omnipresent in the Chelsea team since then, with over 100 appearance for the blues to his name.
Unfortunately, despite his huge reputation in England (he won the Golden Gloves award as the best 'keeper in the Premiership for the '02-'03 season), Carlo has yet to earn a senior Italian cap - mainly due to the provincial nature of Italian football, where players outside of the Italian league are more-or-less ignored. But the move away from the Italian league was vital for Cudicini's career; Carlo has admitted himself that he had to leave Italy in order to escape the shadow cast by his legendary father. He has been called up to the Italian squad once, for a friendly match against Turkey - but that's it. It has been suggested that when he becomes eligible for British citizenship - some time in 2004 - he may receive a call to the English national squad.
In January 2004, a story was circulated in some of the British tabloid newspapers saying that Carlo wanted to return to Milan, to bring up his children there. A few days later, he held a press conference at Stamford Bridge to deny these rumours, to reiterate his commitment to Chelsea (where he has a contract until 2008). He was quoted on the Chelsea website as saying "If you read the newspapers, they said that I've got kids! And as far as I know I haven't! I have got a dog, yes, and he's really happy to stay here in London. Unfortunately I don't have a wife anymore. We broke up three or four months ago."
Carlo lives in London, with his 5-year-old rottweiler, Ludwig. His hobbies include music, travel, online gaming, tennis and golf, and his ambition is to get a pilot's license - influenced, he claims, by the proximity of both Milan's and Chelsea's training grounds to airports.
The Official Chelsea FC website
The official Carlo Cudicini website.
ESPN Soccernet article written on the eve of Carlo's first FA Cup final, in 2002.
A submission for caknuck's Athletes and Sports Figures quest