Iona Alumnus Giuliano Santucci makes history, signs professional contract

Matthew Chaves, Sports Editor

Iona alumnus Guiliano Santucci recently announced on his Instagram page that he signed a professional contract with Categoría Primera A side Patriotas Boyacá, making him the first American goalkeeper to sign in the Colombian division. It’s his first professional signing since he’s departed the Gaels.

Santucci believes him being the first American goalkeeper to be signed in Colombia will help get rid of the stigma that American college players aren’t good enough for the professional leagues.

“People are going to look less down upon college soccer.” Santucci said via Zoom video call. “Know that I didn’t come from the biggest program, I wasn’t the best known player in the United States, I wasn’t in the draft, but I came here, I worked hard and I signed the contract based on my talent and based on the coaches belief in me.”

Santucci played a total of 27 games, average 1.18 goals against him per game. With 87 saves, he averaged 0.725 saves, helping his team gain 17 wins. Santucci was apart of the historic 2019-2020 team that won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship for the first time in Iona men’s soccer history.

The Iona alumnus originally played for Marist, playing only three games for the Red Foxes. Thanks to help from his cousin and former Gaels teammate Enzo Sangiacomo, he decided to transfer to Iona to continue his career, where he worked with a familiar face in head coach James Hamilton.

“I was comfortable with James already he actually offered me, before I went to Marist, to go to Iona,” Santucci said. “I liked the school; it was close to home as well and that’s why I chose Iona.”

The time with the Gaels helped Santucci become the player he is today, he said. Learning discipline and where priorities are in life influenced Santucci when training to get signed to his first professional team.

Santucci found out about the news while he was having lunch one day.

“I was like ‘Oh my God,’” Santucci said. “My heart dropped, I was like ‘It’s happening.’ I remember I walked over to my Dad and I hugged him and I bawled out in tears…I couldn’t hold in my emotions.”

The former Gael said the signing meant a lot to him, especially since he lost his cousin two months prior. Getting signed was for him, he said.

“To know that I could put a smile on my family’s face during these times is all I needed,” Santucci said.

Patriotas Boyacá has recently sold a lot of their players, making room for a myriad of new players. They’ve signed 11 players, not including Santucci, since Jan. 6.

“Being a part of this movement and this program here as well is great,” Santucci said. “To be part of something new and that’s building is great because there’s more opportunity, there’s more open doors…and for me, coming from Iona College to now signing with them is a great accomplishment and I’m happy they didn’t look down upon that, me coming from a [college].”

While being a professional soccer player is his main focus now, Santucci still has two businesses – JR10 Clothing and GSS Sport – here in the states he aims to continue on as he grows his career in Colombia. It will be harder to keep running them, but with the help of his friends and family at home, it will definitely be doable, he said. Additionally, his experience being a student athlete helped prepare him for a situation like this, since he’s used to having little to no free time.

Patrioatas Boyacá play their first game on Jan. 22 against Independiente Medellín.s