That devotion to the art of defending has proved key to Italian club Juventus winning seven successive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2018.
But he’s not only a student of defensive disciplines — the 34-year-old recently graduated from the University of Turin with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
“Life will be beautiful after the end of a player’s career. But you have to prepare first or there is a risk you will get to 35-years-old and not know what to do with your life. Only a few players manage to find a job in football.”
Risk of depression
In addition, 45% of players earn less than $1,000 a month during their careers, according to a FIFPro report in 2016.
That combination means many former players are left struggling to pay the bills with no education or relevant work experience to fall back on.
“There’s also the risk of depression, and there are many former players with financial problems because they have not thought about what they are going to do, they have not opened their minds by studying,” warned Chiellini.
“You then have the rest of your life in front of you and just being able to play football is not enough.”
‘I missed out’
Former Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and now Crystal Palace defender Mamadou Sakho is a footballer eager to get back to school once he hangs up his boots.
“I know with football, we are an example in sports. But I think we are in a closed world and I would like to open my mind with different work.”
Manchester City and Belgium captain Vincent Kompany has also studied for a Master’s in Business Administration, graduating after four years of part-time study at the Alliance Manchester Business School.
Responsibility on families
Chiellini, who has 99 caps for Italy, believes a player’s support network can help in preparing a youngster for a life away from football.
“The family has the responsibility more than anyone to encourage and educate children to get on with their studies,” he said.
“I remember when I was in primary school, between six and 10 years old, sometimes I would say ‘Mum, I am not well, I don’t want to go to school.’
“She always said: ‘If you don’t go to school, you don’t go to football.’ I always got better straight away. I managed to get up and go to school.”
‘From being fundamentally needed to obsolete’
Retiring from professional football without a contingency plan in place can leave many struggling to fill the void.
In addition, 25% of former players reported adverse alcohol behavior.
CNN Sport recently spoke with Clarke Carlisle, a former English Premier League player who struggled with depression during and after his playing career.
The former defender believes the sport needs to do more to prevent players suffering a downward trajectory after retirement.
“There are many, many things that can contribute to a player’s downward spiral in football and we need to be able to mitigate the impact.”
Giorgio Chiellini was speaking to FIFPro as part of their “Mind the Gap” campaign to encourage players to prepare for life after football.