As a player, he mainly played in the centre as a defensive midfielder, although he was also capable of playing on the wing. Although he initially played for smaller Italian clubs Perugia and Salernitana, as well as Scottish club Rangers, he is mostly remembered for his time with Milan in Serie A, where he won the Champions League, in 2002–03 and 2006–07, the Coppa Italia in 2002–03, and also the Serie A title in 2003–04 and 2010–11. In addition to these titles, he also won two Italian Supercups, two UEFA Supercups, and a FIFA Club World Cup. At international level, he represented the Italy national football team at the 2000 Summer Olympics, three FIFA World Cups, two UEFA European Championships, and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Gattuso's talismanic midfield partnership with playmaker Andrea Pirlo, both at club and international level, played a key role in Italy's World Cup victory in 2006, as well as Milan's domestic, European, and international successes during the mid-2000s. Despite not being blessed with notable technical skills, Gattuso's pace, strength, and work-rate complemented and supported Pirlo's composed, creative playing style, while his energy, aggression, and hard-tackling style of play enabled him to make a name for himself as one of the best players in the world in his position. In addition to his ball-winning abilities, Gattuso was also renowned for his competitive nature and leadership qualities throughout his career, often wearing the captain's armband for Milan following Paolo Maldini's retirement.
Gattuso's managerial career began as player-manager of his final club, Sion of the Swiss Super League, and he also had short spells in charge of Palermo and OFI Crete. In June 2016, he led Pisa to Serie B promotion.
Gattuso was born in Corigliano Calabro, Italy. He started his career with Umbrian side Perugia, but transferred in July 1997, at the age of 19, to the Scottish team Rangers.
Walter Smith, who brought Gattuso to Glasgow, left the club in 1998. Smith's successor, Dick Advocaat, did not favour Gattuso and, after being played out-of-position as a right-back, the Italian was sold in October 1998 to then recently promoted Serie A club Salernitana for £4 million. Despite his good performances, it was not enough to prevent the relegation of his side.
Gattuso was bought by Milan for €8 million from Salernitana in the summer of 1999. He made his debut with the club on 15 September 1999, in a 0–0 away draw with Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League; he soon broke into the starting line-up that season, also playing his first Milan-derby match on 24 October 1999, in which he stood out and immediately endeared himself with the Milan fans for the maturity and tenacity he demonstrated when facing Inter striker Ronaldo, who was widely regarded as the best player in the world at the time.
During his time at the club, Gattuso's work-rate and versatility as a ball-winner later allowed Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti to place midfield playmaker Andrea Pirlo alongside him in a more creative, attacking position, while Gattuso supported him in a deeper role, as a defensive midfielder; this midfield partnership was pivotal to Milan's domestic and international successes under Ancelotti, which included the Coppa Italia, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup in 2003, as well as the Serie A title and the Supercoppa Italiana in 2004. Gattuso signed a contract extension with Milan in June 2003 and in October 2004. During this period, Gattuso also reached the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final with Milan, only to be defeated by Liverpool on penalties, after initially leading 3–0 at half-time.
Gattuso played his 300th game for the club in a goalless Champions League draw against Lille on 26 September 2006, and he extended his current deal with Milan until 2011 on 1 February 2007. On 23 May 2007, Gattuso won the Champions League for the second time in his career when Milan beat Liverpool 2–1 in the final.
After winning the FIFA Club World Cup, on 27 December 2007, Gattuso trained with his former club Rangers to regain fitness during the Serie A winter break whilst his wife was visiting family in Scotland over Christmas. The following December, Gattuso suffered a torn Anterior cruciate ligament early on in the 1–0 league win against Catania. Despite the injury, however, Gattuso played the entire 90 minutes before being diagnosed by the club doctors after the match. He underwent surgery to repair the damage on 19 December 2008 in Antwerp, Belgium. He was expected to miss up to six months of action, but managed to return to the Milan bench on 10 May against Juventus, a month ahead of schedule.
On 22 August 2009, he made his 400th appearance with Milan in the opening match of the 2009–10 Serie A season against Siena, wearing the captain's armband. It was confirmed by Milan on 14 December 2009 that Gattuso would remain a Milan player until 30 June 2012, after adding one more year to his current contract.
The 2010–11 season with Milan was one of Gattuso's best seasons of his career, and saw him end a three-year goal drought with a left-footed strike from outside the box, which proved to be the decisive goal in a 1–0 victory over Juventus on 5 March 2011. Gattuso later celebrated another goal in a 4–1 victory against Cagliari with a long distance header that beat the goalkeeper, who was off his line. Gattuso celebrated Milan's 18th Scudetto victory after a scoreless draw against Roma on 7 May.
Gattuso had been experiencing vision problems in early September 2011, a few days before the season kicked off. On 9 September 2011, Gattuso crashed into teammate Alessandro Nesta whilst playing against Lazio in Milan's opening Serie A game of the 2011–12 season. He was substituted off directly afterwards in the 20th minute and diagnosed with a left sixth cranial nerve palsy, resulting in double vision, an injury that could have ended his football career. He later revealed that he had seen teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović in four different positions during the opening stages of the match, and was unable to see Nesta, resulting in the pair's clash.
On 11 May 2012, Gattuso confirmed that he would not renew his contract with the club which was due to expire on 30 June, and that he would be leaving Milan at the end of the season.
On 15 June 2012, after being released by Milan, Gattuso joined Swiss club Sion. He had been linked with a deal to join former club Rangers in Scotland, but the deal fell through because of the club's financial difficulties. On 25 February 2013, Gattuso was named as the new manager of Sion after manager Víctor Muñoz was demoted to a scouting role after a 4–0 defeat by Thun in the Swiss Super League.
In a UEFA Champions League group stage match against Ajax in September 2003, he was sent off during second-half injury time after slapping Ajax striker Zlatan Ibrahimović in the face with the back of his hand. His temper has caused him further problems when in December 2005, at the final whistle of Milan's 3–2 defeat of Schalke 04 in the Champions League, Gattuso was seen seeking out and taunting Schalke's midfielder Christian Poulsen as a reaction to Poulsen's fierce marking of Kaká in the first leg. Gattuso insisted, however, that the press exaggerated the significance of the incident.
On 15 February 2011, during Milan's Champions League game against Tottenham Hotspur, Gattuso pushed Tottenham coach Joe Jordan away by the throat during an incident on the sideline. Jordan was seen outside his allowed technical area exchanging words with Gattuso, in relation to the relatively physical game that had been played. After the game, after Gattuso had shaken hands with the Tottenham players, video footage shows him confronting Jordan and head-butted him after another exchange of words, before being restrained by both teammates and opponents. "I lost control. There is no excuse for what I did. I take my responsibilities for that," said the 33-year-old Gattuso, but he also said Jordan provoked him throughout the game but refused to say what his comments were. Newspapers, however, reported Joe Jordan had been using racist, offensive calls for much of the game by calling Gattuso a "fucking Italian bastard" from the sidelines. The following day, it was announced that UEFA was looking at additional sanctions or punishment for Gattuso's actions against Jordan the previous day and has been charged with "gross unsporting conduct." Gattuso was then suspended for five Champions League matches – one for yellow card accumulation, the other four for the incident with Jordan. The Tottenham coach also received a touchline ban by UEFA for his involvement in the exchange.
On 2 December 2012, Gattuso, in a game in the Swiss Super League, took the yellow card from referee Nikolaj Hänni's hand and gave it back after gestures.
Gattuso represented the Italy under-18 side at the 1995 UEFA European Under-18 Football Championships, where Italy finished in second place to Spain following a 4–1 final defeat; he also represented the Italy under-21 side at the 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, where Italy went on to win the tournament with a 2–1 victory over the Czech Republic in the final.
Gattuso was capped 73 times for his country at senior level, and played in the 2000 Summer Olympics, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008, the 2009 Confederations Cup, and the 2010 World Cup. He made his senior international debut under Dino Zoff, at the age of 22, in a 1–0 friendly home victory over Sweden, on 23 February 2000. He made his first start for Italy later that year, under Giovanni Trapattoni, on 15 November, scoring the only goal in a 1–0 friendly home victory over England with a powerful strike from outside the area; this was his first and only goal for Italy.
Gattuso made two substitute appearances at the 2002 World Cup, first in his nation's 2–0 opening group win against Ecuador, and secondly in Italy's controversial 2–1 extra-time defeat to co-hosts South Korea in the round of 16 of the competition. He also later appeared in Italy's two opening group matches against Denmark (0–0) and Sweden (1–1), but missed out on Italy's final match against Bulgaria (2–1) due to a suspension following an accumulation of two yellow cards in the first two matches of the competition; despite a 2–1 win, Italy were eliminated from the tournament in the first round on direct encounters, following a three-way five-point tie with Denmark and Sweden.
Gattuso was named to Italy's 23-man squad for the 2006 World Cup, and was one of the key players in Italy's eventual victory in the tournament under manager Marcello Lippi; he won the Man of the Match award for his performance in his nation's 3–0 victory in the quarter-finals of the tournament, against Ukraine. He and Andrea Pirlo formed a formidable partnership in the heart of midfield, with Gattuso supporting Pirlo's creative playmaking duties with his work-rate and ability to break down possession. While Pirlo finished as one of the top assist providers in the tournament, Gattuso won 31 challenges and completed 351 passes out of the 392 he attempted; he also provided an assist during the tournament, helping to set up Filippo Inzaghi's goal in a 2–0 win over the Czech Republic in Italy's final group match of the tournament on 22 June. Gattuso achieved a measure of notoriety for his post-match celebrations after Italy won the World Cup final on penalties against France on 9 July, during which he removed his shorts and ran around the pitch in his underwear, until FIFA officials forced him to cover up. He was named to the tournament's All Star Team for his performances.
Under Roberto Donadoni at Euro 2008, Gattuso played in the matches against Netherlands (a 0–3 loss) and France (a 2–0 win) in the group stage, but was suspended for the quarter-final match against eventual champions Spain, along with Andrea Pirlo; in their absence, Italy went on to lose 4–2 in the ensuing penalty shoot-out after a 0–0 draw following extra-time.
On 19 November 2008, he made his first appearance as Italy's captain, taking the armband following Fabio Cannavaro's substitution in the 61st minute of a friendly against Greece. Despite having only recently recovered from a serious knee injury, Lippi included Gattuso in Italy's squad for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they suffered a first round elimination.
In June 2010, he announced that he would retire from international duty after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he participated in his nation's final group match against Slovakia – his last game for the national side, as Italy suffered a first round elimination following a 3–2 defeat.
Throughout his career, Gattuso mainly played as a central or defensive midfielder, although he was even deployed on the right flank on occasion, either as a full-back, wing-back, or as a winger, due to his versatility; he was also capable of playing as a central defender. Despite not being particularly skilful from a technical standpoint (although he was able to improve in this area with time under the tutelage of Mauro Tassotti), Gattuso was a strong, consistent, aggressive, and hard-tackling midfielder, with an extremely high work rate; he also possessed a powerful shot, and quick reactions, as well as an excellent positional sense and good anticipation, which enabled him to excel in this position; in his prime, he was widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. His energetic and combative box-to-box style of play, as well as his pace, tactical awareness and abilities as a ball-winner, allowed him to form a successful midfield partnership with playmaker Andrea Pirlo throughout his career, both at club and international level. Gattuso's deeper position on the pitch allowed him to support Pirlo and his other team-mates defensively by breaking up the opposition's attacks; he often only advanced in order to intercept the ball and play it to one of his more creative or offensive team-mates after winning back possession, subsequently returning to his more defensive midfield role. His tenacity on the pitch, exemplified by his fierce challenges and stamina, earned him the nickname Ringhio (Snarl). In addition to his footballing abilities, he also stood out for his competitive spirit and his leadership.
On 25 February 2013, Gattuso was named as the new manager of Sion after manager Víctor Muñoz was demoted to a scouting role after a 4–0 defeat by Thun in the Swiss Super League. Gattuso became the fifth manager of the club in the 2012–13 season. On 27 February 2013, Gattuso won his first match as a manager, beating Lausanne 2–0 away in a Swiss Cup match. Gattuso was sacked on 13 May 2013.
Later in May 2013, he was heavily linked with the managerial post at Palermo, after the Sicilians were relegated to Serie B. On 3 June 2013, Maurizio Zamparini confirmed he had a verbal agreement with Gattuso, subjected to a contract release with then manager Giuseppe Sannino. The appointment was made official later on 19 June, after Gattuso successfully rescinded his contract with Sion. Gattuso named Luigi Riccio as his assistant, with whom he worked at Sion. His experience as rosanero head coach was however short-lived, as he was sacked 25 September 2013 after achieving only two wins and a draw in the first six games of the league season.
On 5 June 2014, Gattuso was appointed manager of Superleague Greece team OFI Crete.
While managing OFI Crete, in the first few months there were rumours that the players and coaching staff were not getting paid due to the financial situation in Greece. Gattuso lashed out at media saying that he expects 100% all the time from his players regardless if they get paid or not. He then made a bold statement saying that he does not care about the money, but only about the game. Throughout the press conference he controversially threw out curse words and banged on the table.
On 26 October 2014 Gattuso tended his resignation as head coach of OFI Crete, following a 2–3 home loss to Asteras Tripoli F.C., citing the club's financial difficulties as one the main reasons behind his decision. However, on the very next day he changed his mind after having been successfully persuaded by the club supporters and the board to stay. On 30 December 2014, Gattuso officially resigned as OFI Crete manager, due to the club's financial problems.
In January 2015, he applied for the manager's position at Scottish club Hamilton Academical following the departure of Alex Neil.
Gattuso was appointed as the manager of the then Lega Pro side Pisa on 20 August 2015. On 12 June 2016, he led Pisa to Serie B promotion after beating out Foggia 5–3 on aggregate in the Lega Pro promotion play-off final. On 31 July however, he suddenly left Pisa, citing "serious, constant and unacceptable" problems at the club being the reason for his departure. One month after leaving the club, he re-joined Pisa as the team's head coach.
Gattuso is married to Monica Romano, a Scottish woman of Italian descent, whom he met while playing for Rangers at an exhibition game in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The couple dated for a long while before marrying. They have a daughter, Gabriella (born 20 June 2004), and a son, Francesco (born 8 November 2007). Monica is the sister of GMTV's Los Angeles correspondent Carla Romano.
In January 2010, Gattuso opened a fish shop in his home town of Corigliano Calabro.
Gattuso is a Catholic.
Gattuso features in EA Sports' FIFA football video game series; he was included in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 16.As of 26th May 2017