Wilfried Gnonto Biography – Childhood, Parents, Family [2024]

Introducing the Wilfried Gnonto story, this biography will cover essential facts about his childhood, early life, and family – including his father, Boris Noel Gnonto, mother, Chantal Gnonto, and siblings. Additionally, information about his girlfriend and personal life will be provided.

This account of Gnonto’s life also delves into his African roots, detailing his parents’ journey from Ivory Coast to Italy and how he was raised within a Catholic Church community.

Aspects of his upbringing, such as his education and religious background, will be explored. Furthermore, the Italian athlete’s personal life, lifestyle, net worth, and salary details will be discussed.

In summary, this biography offers a comprehensive history of Wilfried Gnonto, the diminutive Leeds wonder who caught the attention of Italy’s national team coach, Mancini.

Growing up in the Baveno oratory, Gnonto could have pursued a religious path but instead decided to follow his passion for football.

This is the tale of an Ivorian-Italian wunderkind from Baveno who aspired to play football but struggled to afford appropriate footwear.

Wilfried Gnonto played football barefoot, always with a beaming smile.


Starting with his childhood and early life, this biography of Wilfried Gnonto will chronicle how his family persevered through their initial years in Italy. Furthermore, it will highlight his faith-based football upbringing and his rise in the sport.

As we engage you in this riveting biography of Wilfried Gnonto, we hope to inspire a love for autobiographies.

Following Italy’s 2022 FIFA World Cup exclusion and subsequent loss to Argentina, the national team began a new chapter. Roberto Mancini’s revitalization of gli Azzurri started with Wilfried Gnonto.

This exceptional player has become endeared to Italian fans, even inspiring a song dedicated to him.

During our research, we discovered a gap in the in-depth stories about Italian footballers‘ lives. Many fans have not encountered the captivating biography of Wilfried Gnonto, which we are excited to share with you now.

Introducing Wilfried Gnonto’s childhood story:

Often referred to by his nickname “Willy,” the Italian footballer’s full name is Degnand Wilfried Gnonto. He was born on November 5, 2003, to his mother, Chantal Gnonto, and father, Boris Noel Gnonto, in Verbania, Italy.

As far as we know, Wilfried Gnonto appears to be the only child of his parents. Boris and Chantal have always been his greatest support system, providing him with the best parental guidance.

Growing up:

Willy was raised by Chantal and Boris Noel in Baveno, a small town in Piedmont, located on Lake Maggiore. It was here that he discovered and fell in love with football.

As a child, Wilfried was well-liked by those around him. His parents instilled in him essential values and morals throughout his upbringing.

Young Gnonto was encouraged to explore various sports and learn new skills. Chantal and Boris supported his passion for reading, playing educational games, and, most importantly, football.

Wilfried Gnonto’s early life:

Gazing out from his family’s home, young Gnonto would often watch the soccer field located within a church compound. He would frequently go out to play football there, and the sport quickly became an integral part of his life.

At the age of five, Gnonto began playing for a team organized by Massimo Zacchera, the patron of Baveno parish. One day, Chantal and Boris approached the patron to inquire if their son could join the group of young boys who played on the field.

As Wilfried’s love for football grew, his parents realized they couldn’t keep up with his insatiable desire for the sport. Although still quite small when he began playing with the other boys, he quickly became a favourite among them and formed lasting friendships.

Even at the tender age of five, Gnonto displayed natural leadership qualities. As the captain of his team, he was always smiling and supportive of his teammates. In terms of gameplay, Chantal and Boris’ son was exceptionally fast.

Delving into Wilfried Gnonto’s family background:

Chantal, his mother, and Boris Noel, his father, are Ivorian parents who have lived in Italy for over three decades. Now, let’s discuss the occupations of Wilfried Gnonto’s parents.

Boris began working in an Italian textile factory, while Wilfried Gnonto’s mother, Chantal, was a waitress at a hotel for 21 years. Chantal worked for Massimo Zacchera, the owner of the Zacchera hotel in Baveno, Italy.

Wilfried Gnonto’s parents’ journey to Italy:

Similar to Yunus Musah‘s story, Boris Noel, Wilfried Gnonto’s father, migrated to Italy from Ivory Coast in the 1990s to escape poverty. Upon arriving in Italy, he found refuge in the Catholic Church in Baveno.

Like Inaki and Nico Williams’ parents, Wilfried Gnonto’s father received support from the church. Boris Noel was employed as a helper and caretaker for the Catholic Parish in Baveno.

Five years after settling in Italy, Boris sent for his wife, Chantal, to join him. A few years after their reunion, their son Wilfried, known to football fans as Willy, was born.

Wilfried Gnonto’s parents lived in a church apartment for the next 30 years. For 21 of those years, Massimo Zacchera, the patron of Baveno, employed Chantal to work at Baveno Calcio, his hotel. Zacchera owns a chain of hotels located on a lake.

Wilfried Gnonto’s family origins:

When asked where he considers home, Gnonto is likely to mention Baveno, a northern Italian town in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, located 73 km from Milan. This is where his parents raised him.

Before moving to Italy, Wilfried Gnonto’s parents experienced much of Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s reign in Côte d’Ivoire. Their home country (formerly known as Ivory Coast) is situated in West Africa and is famous for being the birthplace of Chelsea forwards Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.


Gnonto belongs to and identifies with a demographic group known as Ivorian-Italians. In simpler terms, this ethnic group comprises individuals who are Italian citizens but have Côte d’Ivoire ancestry. On a much wider scale, Willy joins Luca Koleosho and Destiny Udogie as Italians with African heritage.

Wilfried Gnonto’s education:

Chantal and Boris Noel have always believed that education is a crucial component for their son to lead a successful life. Even as Wilfried Gnonto committed himself to football, he attended the scientific sports school in Busto Arsizio.

This school, located about 35 kilometres north of Milan, was where the young athlete pursued his studies. During his time there, Wilfried Gnonto’s favourite subject was Latin, earning him the nickname “The Latinist of the Goal” from his classmates.

Wilfried Gnonto attended Liceo classico (the oldest public secondary school type in Italy) before moving on to Liceo scientifico. This is a secondary education created to equip students with the skills needed to progress in any higher institution – including the university.

Gnonto’s football story:

In Baveno, a town in Verbania, the young prodigy began building his career on a synthetic grass pitch overlooking Lake Maggiore. Surrounded by a picturesque landscape, Willy honed his skills as a child on the shores of the popular tourist destination.

Former coaches and teammates fondly recall the impact Wilfried had on the team during his early days in the academy. He was a force of nature at such a young age, helping his team win numerous trophies.

With each victory, the pride of his youth team grew, and Willy, the golden boy behind their success, became the center of attention in the town square. He was the talk of the town, attracting the admiration of spectators and parents alike.

The pursuit of further progress:

Leaving his local club behind, Gnonto joined a more competitive academy. Mattia, the president of Suno Calcio (a football academy) for over twelve years, welcomed Wilfried to his team.

Mattia, who later left his job to work at Pro Vercelli, admitted that among the hundreds of kids he had trained, none were like the great Willy Gnonto. While playing for Suno Calcio, the young Sensation played alongside Zerbin, his teammate and best friend at the time.

Alessio Zerbin, whose parents had him in 1999, is four years older than his friend, Gnonto. Fans were thrilled to see these two footballers become members of the Italian national team in the year 2022. Both friends (Alessio and Wilfried) were included in Mancini’s final 30-player Italian squad for the Finalissima (2022).

Wilfried Gnonto’s Biography – The Success Story:

As the promising young talent and his teammates participated in various tournaments, he consistently scored numerous goals. In one memorable match at a Nerazzurri training centre, Willy’s team won 8-1, with him netting seven goals. His performance often led to the crowd chanting his nickname;

‘Willy, Willy!’.

Following several tournament victories, a Nerazzurri scout spotted Willy and initiated efforts to bring him to Inter Milan. The scout met with Wilfried Gnonto’s parents to approve the transfer of their 9-year-old son to Inter Milan in the summer of 2012.

Joining his new club required many sacrifices from his family in terms of football and education. Wilfried Gnonto’s father made significant sacrifices, including a 120km round trip every day to train with the Nerazzurri youth team.

Due to the need to drive his son to practice, Wilfried Gnonto’s father switched to the night shift at his textile factory job. If Boris had to work during the day, his wife, Chantal, took on the responsibility of driving their son to practice.

At times, Inter Milan provided a van to transport Gnonto from the Meina motorway exit and to pick him up from school for matches or training sessions.

The big leap:

Gnonto’s rapidly developing talent shone during his time with Inter’s Under-15 team. He scored 10 goals at that level and an additional 20 goals when promoted to the Under-17 team. The young Inter Milan goal-scoring phenomenon was born.

With the Nerazzurri’s Under-17 team, Gnonto outshone his peers. He played a pivotal role in helping his team win the youth championship in 2019. His success in the youth ranks was the result of dedication, hard work, and persistence.

His outstanding performance earned him a call-up to the Italian Under-16 team, and as he continued to score goals for his club, he was promoted to the country’s under-17 squad. In 2019, he made his debut at the Under-17 FIFA World Cup.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Bio – The Road to Fame:

Gnonto’s performance at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup marked a significant turning point in his career. Aged just 15, he scored a brace in the tournament, with FIFA even celebrating his two goals on Twitter.

But Gnonto didn’t stop there, as he also scored against Mexico. His Azzurrini team reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Gabriel Veron’s Brazilian team, who eventually won the tournament.

In 2020, a year after the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Gnonto left Italy for Switzerland. To secure a first-team opportunity as a professional footballer, he moved to Zürich. Consequently, he never became a senior player with Inter Milan.

Gnonto chose not to compete against Inter’s first-team regulars, such as Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martínez, Alexis Sánchez, and Ivan Perisic, who were trusted forwards under Antonio Conte’s tenure as Inter Milan’s manager.

Life in Zurich, Switzerland:

“Departing Inter Milan after eight seasons was tough, but in football, sometimes difficult decisions must be made,”

Joining Swiss club Zürich at just 16 years old was indeed a challenging choice. The primary goal was to secure a starting position at a club. Demonstrating his professionalism, Gnonto immediately began taking private German lessons to accelerate his integration.

For the young athlete, playing for a club in another country was both an honour and a privilege. Willy strove to make the most of the opportunities, giving his all. The Goal Latinist, as he was nicknamed, amazed everyone by assisting the club in winning the 2021/2022 Swiss Super League trophy.

Gnonto’s fearlessness in front of the goal quickly made him a fan favourite in Zurich. He received the nickname “Superjolly” from the fans, who even dedicated a Swiss version of the “Willy Gnonto Song” to him.

Due to his outstanding performances, Gnonto was included in the Guardian’s list of the 60 best young talents in the world of soccer who was born in 2003. This list features names like Jamal Musiala (Midfielder), Florian Wirtz (Midfielder), Xavi Simons (Right Winger), and others.

Leeds United:

With Marcelo Bielsa’s departure and the arrival of American coach Jesse Marsch, the English club entered a new era. Significant departures, such as Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips, were quickly replaced by Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, and Gnonto, among others.

The Ivorian-Italian has made a strong impression on the club and its supporters. Gnonto enjoyed an impressive Premier League debut, assisting Crysencio Summerville in a victory against formidable Liverpool.

Serving as an excellent alternative to Jack Harrison, the young star has lived up to the early promises he made to fans upon joining The Old Peacock. The rest, as they say, is history.

Who is Wilfried Gnonto’s Girlfriend?

Given his remarkable career trajectory thus far, it is reasonable to assume that the Ivorian-born winger is destined for great success. In many successful footballers, there has always been a glamorous WAG, which raises the question:

Who is Wilfried Gnonto dating?

At the time of writing Wilfried Gnonto’s biography, he does not appear to be in a romantic relationship. Following his parents’ advice, the young player seems to be focusing on his Leeds and Italian career. Wilfried Gnonto’s dating life remains quiet in the early stages of his senior career.

Personal Life:

Who is Wilfried Gnonto?

Many football enthusiasts may not know that his tribal name is Degnand. This name originates from Côte d’Ivoire, the country of Wilfried Gnonto’s parents. The athlete prefers to be called Willy rather than his first or traditional name, Degnand.

As a child, Gnonto looked up to a legendary footballer – none other than Lionel Messi. After the Finalissima 2022 match between Argentina and Italy, the winger waited for an hour outside the locker room just to get Messi’s autograph.


Off the pitch, Gnonto, like Justin Kluivert, leads a peaceful and tranquil life. It’s worth noting that Willy enjoys studying. Upon joining Zürich, his parents had to bring all his books to his new home, providing him with ample reading material during his downtime. His father, Boris, once told Rai Radio1:

He asked me: ‘Dad, please bring all my books to me because I think I’ll stay in Zurich for a while.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Family Life:

The Verbania-born athlete leans on his parents for emotional support and encouragement. Additionally, Willy also relies on his family for practical assistance in various aspects of his career. Now, let’s share more about them:

Wilfried Gnonto’s Mother:

As of 2023, Chantel is approaching her 26th year of living in Italy. Before her son’s debut with the Azzurri, she left her job at a hotel. Chantal deserves credit for raising a son with exceptional humility (akin to Ngolo Kante).

Wilfried Gnonto’s mother, along with his father, once resided in Zurich, where their beloved son Willy played football.

From what we know, Chantal is a strong advocate for education. Her efforts have contributed to her son’s success in obtaining his high school diploma. With her assistance, he was able to pass his German exam in Switzerland upon turning 18.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Father:

Boris no longer works night shifts at the textile factory. He and his wife Chantal supported their son’s decision to leave classical high school, as Willy struggled to balance his studies with football training. Boris Noel Gnonto made sure his son always had access to his books.

The athlete’s father collaborates closely with Claudio Vigorelli (Gnonto’s agent) and Vigo Global Sports Services Srl. This football agency manages players like Nicolò Zaniolo, as of 2023. Boris’ main responsibility is to oversee the business aspects of his son’s career.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Siblings:

It appears that he might be the only child of his parents, Chantal and Boris. Alternatively, information about Wilfried Gnonto’s siblings may be kept private by the footballer and may not be relevant to the public perception of his career.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Relatives:

It is certain that Willy has extended family members in Côte d’Ivoire, his parents’ home country. In the West African nation, they comprise Gnonto’s support network.

Some of Gnonto’s relatives may likely play supportive roles by attending games and offering him encouragement and motivation.

Untold Facts:

In the concluding section of Wilfried Gnonto’s biography, we will reveal additional facts you may not be aware of. Let’s get started.

Gnonto’s Wealth:

In Côte d’Ivoire, the country where his family originates, the above-average citizen earns 12,646 euros per year. It would take such a person 37 years to accumulate Wilfried Gnonto’s annual salary with Leeds United.

Wilfried Gnonto’s FIFA Profile:

At just 18 years old, the Italian player can boast nearly flawless movement attributes, comparable to young talents like Micah Hamilton, Anthony Elanga, and Alejandro Garnacho.

Interestingly, Gnonto falls short in only two aspects of football (below the 50-point average) aside from defending: his free kick accuracy and interception ratings, which are 46 and 25, respectively.

Wilfried Gnonto’s Religion:

Raised by his parents, Boris Noel and Chantal, as a devout Catholic, Wilfried Gnonto spent time in an oratory run by parish priest Don Alfredo. Although he practices Christianity, the Italian footballer seldom discusses his faith publicly.

Final Note:

The athlete is commonly known as Willy, a name derived from his first name, Wilfried. His traditional name, Degnand, originates from Côte d’Ivoire, the home country of his parents. Willy was born on November 5, 2003, to his father, Boros, and mother, Chantal.

Gnonto’s parents have resided in Italy for over two decades. His mother has been there for almost 26 years, while his father is nearing his 30th year in the country. For many years, Gnonto’s parents lived in Baveno, where they looked after an oratory.

Boris and Chantal are grateful to parish priest Don Alfredo for providing them with a place to live in the oratory and welcoming them as family members into his Catholic church.

Just like Sandro Tonali, young Willy first kicked a soccer ball at the oratory. Growing up, his idol was Lionel Messi, and he honed his skills by watching numerous YouTube videos of the Argentine star and attempting to emulate his moves.

In terms of education, Willy Gnonto attended a liceo classico before moving on to a liceo scientifico for secondary schooling. The Italian player began his soccer journey with the Baveno and Suno academies. At the age of nine, he was discovered by Nerazzurri scouts, and since his youthful days, he, like Mateo Retegui, has never looked back.

Career Summary:

Wilfried Gnonto’s parents alternated travelling the 120-kilometre round trip nearly every day to take him to training with the Nerazzurri. At 16, the young forward decided to join Zürich in Switzerland, where he became a starter for the club.

Gnonto experienced a rapid rise in Switzerland and the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He quickly became a fan favourite in Zurich, earning the nickname “Superjolly.” Fans even dedicated a special song to him, which they call the “Willy Gnonto Song,” This song has both an English and Italian version.

As SoccerBiography concludes, Willy’s primary goal in football is to help his country qualify for the 2026 World Cup. English club Leeds United signed him for £3.8 million, and they are helping him turn his dreams into reality.


SoccerBiography appreciates you for taking the time to read its version of Wilfried Gnonto’s biography. Our content creators are on the watch for fairness and accuracy in our mission to deliver Italian and European soccer stories.

Gnonto’s biography is part of our larger collection of European Football Stories. If you find any inaccuracies or omissions in this article about the Ivorian-Italian prodigy, please let us know in the comments. Additionally, please share your thoughts about the promising talent who has achieved a Breakout Year at Leeds.

Apart from Wilfried Gnonto’s story, we have other captivating European Football Stories. The life stories of Amadou Onana and Evan Ferguson are sure to pique your interest.

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