Ciriaco Sforza (Italian pronunciation: [tʃiˈriːako ˈsfɔrtsa]; born 2 March 1970) is a Swiss former professional football player and current manager, who played as a midfielder. After beginning his career with Swiss clubs FC Aarau and Grasshopper Club Zürich, he most notably played for Internazionale in Italy, and 1. FC Kaiserslautern, and FC Bayern Munich in Germany. Sforza represented the Swiss national team 79 times, and represented his country at the international 1994 World Cup and Euro 96 tournaments.
|Date of birth||2 March 1970|
|Place of birth||Wohlen, Switzerland|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|2009–2012||Grasshopper Club Zürich|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Sforza is of Italian descent; his father was originally from Avellino, before emigrating to Switzerland. Sforza was born and raised in Wohlen, in German-speaking Switzerland. According to his website, he is married and has two children.
Sforza started his career in his hometown club FC Wohlen. He was signed by FC Aarau in 1989, where he impressed commentators and fans alike. Sforza's precocious talent was soon noticed, and he was signed by Swiss giants Grasshoppers Zurich one year later. He represented Grasshoppers during three successful seasons, also setting a record for the club as the youngest player to make his debut in the Swiss League. He won the 1991 Swiss Super League championship with the club, and made his national team debut in August 1991. In 1993, after winning the "Swiss footballer of the Year" award, he moved abroad to Germany to play for 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
Sforza became the general of the Kaiserslautern midfield and was recognised as one of the best midfielders in the German Bundesliga championship, also receiving a Ballon d'Or nomination in 1994, finishing in 21st place. After two seasons at Kaiserslautern, he was bought by German giants FC Bayern Munich in 1995. Sforza was signed at the same time as German superstar Jürgen Klinsmann, compared to the homely smalltown club Kaiserslautern, FC Bayern was a team with many stars. Conflicts between Klinsmann and team captain Lothar Matthäus poisoned the atmosphere and many scandals underlined why FC Bayern is nicknamed FC Hollywood. Bayern also missed out on the German championship for the second season in a row, though Sforza was a part of the 1996 UEFA Cup winning FC Bayern team.
Sforza initially had trouble settling in at FC Bayern, and after one season at the club he moved to Italy. He signed for Internazionale, where he was united with former Swiss national team manager Roy Hodgson. Sforza was regarded as one of the most promising young Swiss players at the time, and he made a notable debut with Inter, scoring the matching winning goal in 1–0 away win on 7 September 1996 against Udinese. Despite the initial glimpses of his potential, Sforza also had a difficult time at Internazionale. Although Hodgson had initially purchased him as to function as a playmaker, to solve Inter's lack of creativity in midfield, Sforza had problems performing consistently, and he spent a lot of time on the bench, although he was able to reach the UEFA Cup final with the club, and also managed a third-place finish in the league. During his time with Inter, Sforza became known for his inconsistency in Serie A, and he is famously remembered in Italy for being referenced in the Italian film Tre Uomini e una Gamba, by Italian comedic trio Aldo, Giovanni e Giacomo; in the film, Aldo states that Giacomo purchased Sforza's number 21 Inter jersey as Ronaldo's was out of stock.
After a single season with Inter, he moved once again – but this time to known territory. In time for the 1997–98 season, Sforza moved back to Kaiserslautern where he immediately made an impression, experiencing a more successful stint with the club and finally demonstrating strong and consistent performances, which justified his reputation as one of the leading Swiss players of his generation. Even though Kaiserslautern had just been promoted from the German second division, Kaiserslautern became German champions, beating Sforza's other former team, German giants FC Bayern, to the title. Sforza spent two more seasons at Kaiserslautern, impressing commentators and fans alike.
In 2000, he decided to give FC Bayern Munich another try. Once again, he failed to perform and spent a lot of time on the sidelines, although he later managed to participate in a more successful period with the club. FC Bayern had many star players competing for places, and the team won both the 2000-01 Bundesliga and 2000-01 UEFA Champions League titles that season. After two seasons at FC Bayern, he returned to Kaiserslautern in 2002, joining Kaiserslautern for a third time, Sforza's "double return" is unique in the German Bundesliga. The aging and now somewhat injury-prone Sforza helped FCK avoid relegation, however, in October 2005, he had a public falling-out with the club and was blackballed. He retired at the end of the season, in summer 2006.
Sforza was selected to play for Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup by national manager Roy Hodgson, putting on a notable performance, and reaching the round of 16. He represented Switzerland at the Euro 96 tournament in England, where they were eliminated in the first round. He also captained the Swiss national side. In total, he managed 79 appearances for Switzerland, scoring 7 goals.
- Scores and results list Switzerland's goal tally first.
|1.||16 August 1992||Kadrioru Stadium, Tallinn||Estonia||6–0||6–0||1994 World Cup qualifier|
|2.||18 November 1992||Wankdorf Stadium, Bern||Malta||3–0||3–0||1994 World Cup qualifier|
|3.||9 March 1994||Népstadion, Budapest||Hungary||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
|4.||12 October 1994||Wankdorf Stadium, Bern||Sweden||3–2||4–2||Euro 1996 qualifier|
|5.||11 October 1995||Hardturm, Zurich||Hungary||2–0||3–0||Euro 1996 qualifier|
|6.||13 March 1996||Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg||Luxembourg||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|7.||6 October 1996||Olympiastadion, Helsinki||Finland||2–0||3–2||1998 World Cup qualifier|
Sforza went on to become manager of Swiss team FC Luzern, and was sacked after two more or less successful years managing the team. On 9 June 2009, he was named as the new manager of Grasshopper Club Zürich. signing a contract between 30 June 2011. On 13 April 2012, Sforza left the club after poor results.
- As of 13 April 2012.
|Luzern||8 June 2006||10 August 2008||Swiss Super League||77||18||24||35||23.38||74||114||–40|
|Grasshopper Club Zürich||9 June 2009||13 April 2012||Swiss Super League||99||38||16||45||38.38||89||92||–3|
- "Ciriaco Sforza: Sarà ricordato solo per una misera citazione al cinema" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Scusate se segno…Ciriaco Sforza (Udinese-Inter 1996/97)" (in Italian). MaiDireCalcio.com. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Sforza: Quanti bidoni in Serie A... ve li ricordate?" (in Italian). Goal.com. 2 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "VE LO RICORDATE? - Ciriaco Sforza, tre uomini e un pigiama" (in Italian). SalentoSport.net. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Vonlanthen a Sciaffusa, Sforza a... Wohlen". Retrieved 3 January 2015.
- "Ciri Sforza neuer Cheftrainer – neuer Sportchef wird gesucht" (in German). gcz.ch. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
- "Ciriaco Sforza räumt seinen Posten sofort". Fussball.ch (in German). 13 April 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Wohlen: arriva Ciriaco Sforza". Tio.ch (in Italian). 16 February 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.