That’s the verdict of 18-year-old mentor and former manager Tony Basha, who was at the Stadio Olimpico in person nine days ago as Sydney-born sensation Volpato came off the bench to score his first goal for the Jose Mourinho’s side in just their second Serie A appearance.
VOLPATO EYES SOCCEROOS BREAKTHROUGH
- Roma rookie Cristian Volpato may represent Australia or Italy – but it looks like he’ll be wearing green and gold.
- The youngster is making waves in the Eternal City after scoring off the bench to help save a 2-2 draw against Hellas Verona. He was an unused substitute in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Spezia.
- The Sydney-born striker has been shunned by two A-League clubs in his hometown, but he thrives in one of the most trying environments in world football.
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Eligible for both Australia and Italy, Volpato dreams of representing his native country at a World Cup.
However, according to Basha and his close family members, Volpato’s overriding imperative is to make further progress in the first team with the Giallorossi before throwing his hat in the international ring.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said this week it would be premature to seek to cap Volpato for next month’s high-pressure World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
And Basha – who raised Volpato at his Australasian football academy for four years – agrees.
“Look, Cristian is a proud Aussie – a kid who loves his roots and loves Australia,” Basha said. FTBL. “There’s been stuff floating around in the media about him not wanting to play for Australia because his talent wasn’t recognized there and he was treated badly.
” But this is not the case. The reality is that everyone around him, his management and everyone, thinks it’s probably best for him right now to focus on trying to establish himself with Roma’s first team.
“Then, of course, we all want to see him play for Australia. You always want to see our best players shoot the shirt.
Basha previously worked with Socceroos striker Mitchell Duke, persuading the Central Coast Mariners to bet on him in 2010.
And it was Basha who, in 2019, contacted then-Roma U-17 coach Fabrizio Piccareta to arrange a trial for the youngster who was deemed surplus to requirements at Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC academies.
Basha believes timing will be key to the youngster’s continued development.
“I think if you threw him into a huge World Cup qualifier against Japan, with the expectations around it, there would be a risk of crushing the kid,” he said.
“I know Mourinho and (his agent Francesco) Totti told him to follow his heart (when it comes to national team football).
“So if he continues to get Serie A minutes and Australia hopefully qualify for the World Cup, we could see him in Qatar.
“I know we’re desperate for saviors right now – but throwing him away (so soon) probably wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. I wouldn’t do it yet if I was coaching the Socceroos because I don’t think he’s quite ready yet. It would be a big risk. »
Basha has a close bond with Volpato, staying with him and his mother Claudia during his jaunt to the Eternal City, where he also touched base with Roma legend Totti, whose talent agency CT10 represents a player who s… is announced for the first time with a flurry of goals and assists. in the Primavera U-20 competition.
“Cristian is the king of Rome right now, they love him,” Basha added with panache. “I even got a free Covid PCR test at the airport when the guy saw I had an AS Roma backpack.
“He asked me if I was a supporter but when I told him it was given to me by Cristian and I had coached him before he refused to charge me. The guy wanted to kiss me .
“Riding in taxis in Rome, you quickly discover that he is the talk of the town.
“Long before his first team appearances (against Inter Milan and Hellas Verona), Cristian killed him in the Primavera, and many fans follow this competition.
“These are the people who called Jose Mourinho to choose him.
“I knew he had something special the day I first saw him when I was 13.
“I kind of live in the dream too because even I didn’t think he would make first-team appearances for Roma at such a young age. I know for a fact that Mourinho loves the kid.
Ranked among the top three talents of the Primavera, it is possible that the Italian junior formation will also appeal.
“It’s possible,” Basha added. “Especially if he continues to make breakthroughs in Serie A. But I don’t think that will be a big problem.”
Series A airs on Be in sports in Australia.