What do robots know about Italian football? We challenged ChatGPT with some calcio questions…

For many years, experts have pondered whether traditional jobs will eventually be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. With the emergence of ChatGPT, that debate is becoming more relevant than ever.

So, what is ChatGPT? In simple terms, it’s a powerful tool that can generate human-like text. The tool has been ‘trained’ on a massive dataset of written content from the internet. All of that data is digested and rules are deciphered (the clever AI bit…) which allow the tool to replicate, imitate and summarise what it has previously seen. ChatGPT can write emails and essays, poetry or answer questions based on a prompt. What sets ChatGPT apart from standard customer service Chatbots is it’s versatility and ability to respond in an authentic human tone.

ChatGPT is currently free to use (you need to register) while it is in its development phase. So we decided to put it to the test with some Italian football-themed tasks. The results are quite remarkable and suggest some profound implications for football writers…


We started gently with a basic factual question. This is akin to using ChatGPT like Google and barely scratches the surface of the tool’s full capability. It gave us a quick, confident…but inaccurate answer (Paolo Montero has 15 red cards to his name). This is where Google holds the upper hand with a couple of decades worth of fine-tuning under its belt.

Never mind, we go again.

We asked:

Which player has received most red cards in Serie A?
ChatGPT said:

As of my knowledge cut-off in 2021, the player who has received the most red cards in Serie A is Giuseppe Bergomi with a total of 11 red cards during his career. He played for Inter Milan for his entire career.


Increasing the difficult a little we next delved into the dangerous world of opinion. The first response to our question about a Serie A team of the 1990s wasn’t bad, but did threw up some odd results. Franco Baresi was in the team three times, Beppe Signori was assigned as a midfielder and Alberigo Evani was given a Lazio career.

ChatGPT gives you the option to ‘regenerate’ the answer i.e. have another go, so that’s what we did. The second time around we got a different response with only 8 players selected (and two of those players were new additions). But we were also offered some additional justification for each selection.

We did run a third iteration (not shown here as it was similar to the first), which included a fictitious Championship Manager-style regen by the name of Franco Bologna from Juventus.

One recurring theme we noticed when asking subjective questions is that ChatGPT loves to provide caveat!

We asked:

Who would be in a Serie A team of the 1990s?
ChatGPT said:

A potential Serie A team of the 1990s could include: 

Goalkeeper: Gianluca Pagliuca (Inter Milan) 

Defenders: Franco Baresi (AC Milan), Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), Franco Baresi (AC Milan), Giuseppe Bergomi (Inter Milan) 

Midfielders: Franco Baresi (AC Milan), Beppe Signori (Lazio), Roberto Baggio (Juventus), Zvonimir Boban (AC Milan) 

Forwards: Gabriel Batistuta (Fiorentina), Marco van Basten (AC Milan) 

This team could also include players such as: 
– Roberto Mancini (Sampdoria & Lazio) 
– Franco Zola (Parma) 
– Roberto Donadoni (AC Milan) 
– George Weah (AC Milan) 
– Alberigo Evani (Sampdoria & Lazio) 

It’s worth noting that this is a subjective list and other people could have different opinions on who should be on this list. 

Second time-around ChatGPT said:

A hypothetical Serie A team of the 1990s would likely feature some of the following players: 

Goalkeeper: Gianluca Pagliuca (Internazionale, Bologna) – Considered one of the best goalkeepers of his era, Pagliuca was a key player for both Inter and Bologna in the 1990s. 

Defense: Paolo Maldini (AC Milan) – A legendary player and captain of AC Milan, Maldini was known for his leadership and defensive prowess. Franco Baresi (AC Milan) – another AC Milan legend, Baresi was considered one of the best defenders of his time. Giuseppe Bergomi (Internazionale) – A defensive stalwart for Inter Milan, Bergomi was known for his intelligence and versatility on the field. 

Midfield: Roberto Baggio (Juventus, AC Milan, Internazionale, Bologna) – Widely considered one of the best Italian players of all time, Baggio was a creative and dynamic midfielder who could score goals and create them for his teammates. Demetrio Albertini (AC Milan) – Another AC Milan legend, Albertini was a box-to-box midfielder known for his skill and leadership on the field. 

Forward: Gabriel Batistuta (Fiorentina) – A powerful and clinical striker, Batistuta was one of the top goal-scorers in Serie A during the 1990s. Christian Vieri (Juventus, Lazio, Internazionale) – another top goal-scorer in Serie A during the 1990s, Vieri was a tall and physically imposing forward who could score goals in a variety of ways. 

This is not an exhaustive list and there were many other players who also played an important role in the 1990s in Italian football, but these players are considered some of the best in their respective positions during this decade. 


Moving further into subjective territory, we asked ChatGPT an unknowable question of the sort that might be discussed down at the pub. Straight away, ChatGPT called us out on this, but nevertheless endeavoured to provide something approaching a useful response.

There were some notable errors in the answer, seemingly confusing I|nter’s 1988/89 team with their predecessors from the 1960s (“Grande Inter”). It also erroneously and rather generously attributed a Coppa Italia, European Cup and UEFA Cup to Inter Milan’s 1988/89 team! Again, coming unstuck on the factual stuff.

We asked:

Who would win if Inter Milan 1988/89 played Inter Milan 2009/10?
ChatGPT said:

It is difficult to say which team would win if Inter Milan 1988/89 played against Inter Milan 2009/10 as both teams had different players, different styles of play, and different levels of competition. 

The Inter Milan team of 1988/89, also known as “La Grande Inter” , was considered one of the greatest teams in Italian football history. They won the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the European Cup, and the UEFA Cup that season. They were led by the legendary coach Giovanni Trapattoni and had a strong defense, midfield and forward line, with players such as Giuseppe Bergomi, Giuseppe Baresi, and Lothar Matthäus. 

On the other hand, the Inter Milan team of 2009/10, led by coach José Mourinho, won the treble of the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, and the UEFA Champions League. They had a strong defense, midfield and forward line, with players such as Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, and Samuel Eto’o. 

Both teams were very successful in their respective seasons and had an impressive squad. It would be a close match and would depend on the form of the players, the tactics of the coach, and the conditions of the match. However, it’s impossible to predict the outcome of a match between these teams as they played in different eras, with different rules and different levels of competition. 


ChatGPT really comes into it’s own when given creative tasks.

Behold this piece of poetry about AC Milan which was generated in literally seconds – and is almost certainly better than anything we could muster in several hours! Moving stuff that would surely resonate with any Milanisto.

Heavy use of “thy”, presumably from all of the Shakespeare the robot has been trained on…

We asked:

Write me a sonnet about AC Milan
ChatGPT said:

Oh AC Milan, how thy banners fly so high,
A symbol of thy strength and glory days,
With Rossoneri colors, red and black,
Thy fans sing with pride, with hearts ablaze. 

Thy history is rich, with titles won,
From Scudetti to Champions League crown,
Thy players, legends, etched in time,
Their names forever etched in Milan town. 

From Baggio to Kaka, Baresi to Maldini,
Thy team’s been blessed with talent divine,
With every match, thy fans hearts beat wildly,
For victory is always on their mind.

Though times may change, and fortunes may vary,
Thy legacy will live on, forever and aye. 


Next, we wanted to see what would happen when we asked ChatGPT something from left field. The robot made an intrepid attempt at answering our abstract question. The answer we got was slightly rambling, but not half bad.

We asked:

Which piece of art could be a metaphor for Udinese Calcio?
ChatGPT said:

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific artwork that could be seen as a metaphor for Udinese Calcio as art is a very personal and subjective interpretation, and different people may have different perspectives on it. However, one artwork that could be seen as a metaphor for Udinese Calcio is “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali. 

This painting, completed in 1931, depicts a distorted landscape with melting watches draped over various objects. The melting watches could symbolize the fluid and ever-changing nature of the game of football, and how the club has managed to adapt and evolve over time despite the constant changes. 

Additionally, the painting also features a sense of uncertainty and unpredictability, which can be compared to the nature of football, and how the club’s performance can change from game to game. Udinese Calcio is not one of the most famous or successful Italian teams, but through the years it has managed to remain competitive and to play in the highest league of Italian football. 

Furthermore, the painting also presents a sense of resilience, as the watches continue to persist despite the melting, which could symbolize how the club has managed to overcome challenges and setbacks, and how it has managed to maintain its identity and competitiveness despite the constant changes. 

In conclusion, “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali could be seen as a metaphor for Udinese Calcio, as it captures the club’s ability to adapt, evolve, remain competitive and to overcome challenges, while maintaining its identity. 

Long Form

Finally, we wanted to test whether ChatGPT could replicate a longer-form, blog-style piece of writing.

As with any technology, it all comes down to intelligent use and getting the inputs right. We inserted some specific commands relating to the length (500 words) and style (‘evocative’) for the desired article…and ChatGPT duly obliged.

ChatGPT offered up a coherent and authentic-sounding description of the event, capturing it’s wider significance for the club and its supporters. However, the tool seemed to get confused on the details of the match (Mexes, Perrotta and Pele were the scorers and Totti played not role in the game). So, perhaps the robot won’t be winning any prizes for journalism just yet, but it’s certainly not bad for 20 seconds’ work. If you’re not happy with the first draft there’s a further trick; you can carry on a ‘conversation’ with the tool by telling it, for example, “The match was played on 24 May 2008 and the first Roma goal was scored by Mexes”. The tool will then produce a further draft incorporating your feedback.

Are traditional football writers about to lose their jobs to a robot? Almost certainly not, but they may lose their job to somebody using a robot…

We asked:

Write an evocative 500-word account of AS Roma’s 2008 Coppa Italia victory
ChatGPT said:

AS Roma’s 2008 Coppa Italia victory was a momentous occasion for the club and its fans. The final, held at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, was a nail-biting affair that ended in a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan. The match was a fitting end to a tournament that had seen the Giallorossi fight tooth and nail to overcome a number of tough opponents.

The Coppa Italia campaign had begun months earlier, in August 2007, with a preliminary round victory over Cremonese. Roma then went on to beat Brescia and Lazio in the following rounds before facing off against Inter in the final. The match was a highly-anticipated affair, with both teams fielding their strongest lineups.

From the opening whistle, the tension was palpable as both teams fought for control of the midfield. Roma’s midfield, led by the likes of Simone Perrotta and Daniele De Rossi, was particularly impressive, with the pair working tirelessly to win possession and launch attacks on the Inter defense.

It was Perrotta who would score the first goal of the match, capitalizing on a defensive mistake by Inter in the 23rd minute. The goal sent the Roma fans into wild celebrations, but their joy was short-lived as Inter equalized just 10 minutes later through a goal from Dejan Stankovic.

The match looked to be heading to extra time, but in the dying minutes of the second half, Roma’s captain Francesco Totti scored the winning goal with a stunning free-kick. The goal sent the Roma fans into delirium and secured the Coppa Italia title for the Giallorossi.

The victory was a significant achievement for the club, not just because of the prestige of winning the Coppa Italia, but also because it ended a long trophy drought for Roma. The last time the club had lifted the Coppa Italia was in 1979, and the victory was seen as a sign of the team’s resurgence under coach Luciano Spalletti.

The players were celebrated as heroes in the streets of Rome and the Coppa Italia trophy was paraded through the city, with thousands of fans lining the streets to catch a glimpse of their victorious team. The victory brought the city together and united the fans in a joyous celebration of their beloved club.

For the players, the victory was the crowning achievement of their careers. Many of them had come through the ranks at Roma’s youth academy and had dedicated their lives to the club. The Coppa Italia victory was a validation of their hard work and a testament to their unwavering commitment to the Giallorossi cause.

In the following years, AS Roma continued to build on the success of the Coppa Italia victory, reaching the Champions League quarter-final in 2008-2009, the semi-final of Europa League in 2016-2017 and finishing second in the Serie A in 2018-2019. The Coppa Italia victory of 2008 remains one of the most iconic moments in the history of the club and its fans will always remember it as a turning point in the club’s history.

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