With the annual Six Nations Championship currently underway, England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy will all be vying for the prestigious rugby prize. In highlighting this year’s competition as it progresses, we’d like to recognize the contributions made from stars of yesteryear. Italy’s Martin Castrogiovanni may be retired and absent from the Six Nations, however, his presence on the rugby pitch will not be soon forgotten. His contagious personality and Unique persona have made him a popular choice for our Throwback Thursday.
There are simply few in rugby like Martin Castrogiovanni. The former prop forward and mainstay on the Italian national team will certainly be missed for his passionate demeanor on game day and playful attitude away from sport. His intensity inspired while his humor entertained with the best of them. And the bronze locks and beard, well, they speak for themselves.
It initially took Castrogiovanni some time to find his calling and a place where he could thrive. Born in Argentina, where he had been overlooked as a rugby player, he longed to pursue a professional rugby career. As a result of few domestic options, he eventually chose to connect to where his grandfather had emigrated from: Italy. The 6’2, 260-pounder found a new home in Italy at the age of 20, albeit at the disapproval of many Argentinians, but that didn’t pierce his thick skin. In Europe, he would thrive and simultaneously emerge as one of the sport’s great characters.
One of Castrogiovanni’s greatest attributes is his willingness to laugh at himself and not take life too seriously. As the video underneath shows, he’s also open to new endeavors that may elongate his athletic career. He may be onto something here. If nothing else, he’s put himself in position to dominate the Italian commercial industry for years to come. (Click here to discover another rugby personality, Australian rugby player Nick Cummins http://www.athletecrush.com/rugby/athlete-crush-nick-cummins/)
Up until the age of 18 in Argentina, Castrogiovanni had played basketball because his mother was not a big fan of rugby. However, after a rebellious Castrogiovanni approached a basketball referee during one match and proceeded to physically engage with him in a manner more seen in rugby, it was not long before his days on the court were over. He may display a competitive tough streak at times, but below we can also witness his more graceful side.
Castrogiovanni may initially come off as a comedic athlete not to be taken seriously. But history and film show a different depiction of the man who’s logged 119 caps and been a key cog for the Italian national team since 2002. His play at English club Leicester, where he was named the 2006/2007 Guinness Premiership player of the season, and French club Toulon also confirmed his status as an elite player. (Click here to read about Chris Mcqueen, an Australian rugby player who is heavily involved in his community http://www.athletecrush.com/rugby/athlete-crush-chris-mcqueen-nrl-titans/)
As a tighthead prop forward, he was charged with manning the right side of the scrum, which he came to master on his way to becoming the best in the world at his position. The passion and fire he brought to the game was also special and a big reason why he became a fan favorite.
Another reason he became a beloved player was because he was able to identify well with fan bases. He remembered the feeling as a child when players would deny him an opportunity to get an autograph, and so if anyone wanted an autograph from him, he would make it a point to stay and give them one.
Castrogiovanni has also been able to connect with another group of fans, through opening his very own restaurant, Timo, in Leicester. His love of food and talent in the kitchen stands out as his does ability to please those around him. Whether hosting customers, some of whom, unfortunately, have no idea who he is, or making himself available to fans after a match, Castrogiovanni ensures that as many people as possible are taken care of.
— Martin Castro (@castrito81) March 3, 2016
As the name for his British bulldog, ‘fatty’, implies, Castrogiovanni is not shy in regard to a bit of self-deprecation. His large frame is also apparent when dressing up as Santa Clause for holiday celebration, as discussed below. But most of all, large will be the void he leaves in the Six Nations Championship this year.
For fifteen years, Castrogiovanni has been a consistent fixture in international competition, and this year will be his first as a retired player. For a whole host of reasons, we will miss his presence and the passion and personality that made him such a joy to watch.
Written by Athlete CRUSH Staff
Posted 9 February 2017