FRENCH GOALKEEPER GENNARO BRACIGLIANO has signed for North East United for the upcoming ISL as a goalkeeper player/coach.
The 35-year-old played for Chennaiyin FC during the inaugural ISL season, who picked him during the 3rd round of the 2014 ISL International Players' Draft.
He joins young Indian goalkeeping duo Lalthuammawia Ralte (new recruit from Bengaluru FC) and Rehenesh TP (played most of the games for NEUFC last season) as the custodians for the John Abraham-owned franchise.
His signing comes two days after 41-year-old Tony Warner, who signed earlier for North East United, joined Bolton Wanderers FC as a coaching staff member. The Guwahati-based ISL franchise saw this as contract breach and terminated the agreement.
Gennaro has spent most of his career at his boyhood club, AS Nancy. After graduating from their academy he was bled into seniro football with loan spells at lower league clubs Louhans-Cuiseaux and Angers. During the 2003-04 season, he got his Ligue 2 debut at Nancy. He ended up playing 19 matches for them, letting in only 17 goals, keeping 7 clean sheets. By the end of the season, he was the clear first-choice goalkeeper for his club.
Next season brought a major turning point for Gennaro, as well as Nancy. He played all season, letting in only 33 goals, including 16 clean sheets that played a vital part in helping Nancy win the Ligue 2, gaining entry to the French top division. Gennaro continued to play for them for the next 6 seasons, helping them solidify their place in Ligue 1. He also saw them through a victorious Coupe de la Ligue title. Overall, he played 224 matches for AS Nancy, earning 80 clean sheets in the process, 53 of them in Ligue 1.
In 2011, Gennaro moved to Olympique Marseille where he spent the next 3 seasons. He did not, however, get much playing time. He appeared in 6 matches for them, including one in the UEFA Champions League. He kept 2 clean sheets.
At ISL, he became the first-choice custodian for Chennaiyin FC, appearing in 13 of their league matches, earning 3 clean sheets. He played an important role in ensuring that the Abhishek Bachchan co-owned franchise finished at the top of the table after the regular season.
In the play-offs, however, things did not go well for him. In the first leg of the semi finals against Kerala Blasters at Kochi, he conceded 3 goals and got dropped from the second leg. In 2015, when Chennaiyin FC released their list of retained players, it did not include Gennaro's name.
It will be interesting to see if Gennaro will get much playing time at NEUFC. With two accomplished Indian goalkeepers already on their roster, manager César Farías may have a primarily coaching role in mind for him. But the experience he brings to the table makes it worth having him around, just in case the team needs an extra pair of safe hands.