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Wednesday October 17 2012
Flourishing Florenzi on Italy radar

He still lives with his parents, he drives a battered car and he earned 200 times less than Daniele De Rossi before signing a new deal. Antonio Labbate looks at Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi.

Less than a year ago, Alessandro Florenzi was playing his football in Serie B with Crotone. Earlier this month, he put pen to paper on a new contract at Roma that is understood to include a bonus should he be included in Italy’s 2014 World Cup squad.

That would be some achievement for a 21-year-old who is presently uncapped at full international level and who has only made seven Serie A appearances in his brief career to date. However, being named in the Azzurri squad by a tactician who is actively considering youth – outside of the goalkeeping slots – is not as far fetched as it may initially seem. And the clause, even if it is not activated, underlines the status of his current potential.

The midfielder, the latest in a long line of Roman-born players to graduate through the youth ranks at Trigoria and into the first team, has consistently been making the right sort of headlines in a start to the season which has been far from straight forward for Zdenek Zeman’s troops.

Roma signed Florenzi as an 11-year-old from Lodigiani, the same club who delivered them Francesco Totti. He cost the outfit around €8,000, but there was a time when there were doubts whether he would make the grade. Starting life as an attacker, there were fears that he wasn’t physically big enough to turn his promise into reality. But Bruno Conti, the club’s youth sector supremo, thought the player’s apparent physical limitations were actually his biggest asset.

“He’s small, slender, but he bites on the pitch, he’s an animal,” Conti says with a sense of pride. “At the start there were those who thought he’d go nowhere, but people said the same things about me. I see the same desire in his eyes that I had. I was blooded on loan at Genoa, he affirmed himself at Crotone. These are constructive experiences for players.”

Florenzi, who was later used as a midfielder by Andrea Stramaccioni and Alberto De Rossi in the capital club’s youth teams, was one of Serie B’s star performers last term. And his displays, plus his 11 goals, were not lost on Zeman – then in charge of Second Division outfit Pescara – or the Giallorossi who had to pay €1.25m to get him back at the Olimpico.

Zeman’s infamous gradoni – a gruelling low-tech terrace step workout – held no fear for the Under-21 international during pre-season and once the campaign got under way proper the Czech, who ignores age, threw him in at the deep end. Florenzi didn’t drown. Limited to a salary of around €30,000 a year, the Federal minimum wage, he rewarded his Coach by consistently proving to be one of their best performers. A new deal worth €600,000 a season was subsequently agreed.

“It won’t change him,” Conti added. “The other day I saw him arrive at Trigoria in a ramshackle car, with a cuddly toy that his girlfriend gave to him hanging on the inside of it. I complimented him for that, as he is evidently coping well with his moment of glory. He’s not the kind of guy who’ll get big-headed. I’m not worried because he’ll remain humble.”

Florenzi, who scored for the Under-21s in the 3-2 win against Sweden last night, gives that impression from the way he speaks. Understandably at the centre of attention, he’s ambitious but also realistic. He seems well aware that his fine 2012-13 so far is not a point of arrival, it is one of departure which he’s hoping will include a stop over at Brazil 2014.

“Zeman is a Coach who makes us run and run,” noted the youngster, who still lives with his parents at Vitinia. “I have absolutely no problem with the Coach. Zeman gets the best out of my qualities, in fact he actually gets me to deliver even more than I am capable of. He’s teaching me so many things and he’ll help me get into the national side.”

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Have your say...
I rate Florenzi highly and have no qualms putting him in my 23-men squad:

Buffon, Sirigu, Viviano

Abate, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito
De Sciglio, Ranocchia, Ogbonna, Santon

Pirlo, Verratti

De Rossi, Montolivo, Marchisio
Poli, Aquilani, Florenzi

Balotelli, Cassano
Destro, El Shaarawy
on the 9th April, 2013 at 3:48pm
Do some of you have nothing better to do then hate someone? This article is about an up and coming youngster for the azzurri. and what looks to be a bright future yet most of the comments are about hate for one man. even if you dislike zeman one should at least be able to realize he has a talent for raising youth player. and as a fan of the azzurri you should be happy to have Italian youth given the opportunity to play in Italy.
on the 18th October, 2012 at 9:56pm
@ Anonymous

You clearly have no clue of Zemans guidance on Italian youth players. When it comes to getting the most out of youth, Zeman is a master. Verratti, Insigne, Immobile, and Francesco Totti are all among the young 19-20 year olds Zeman has helped mature. Florenzi will be a star one day, and it will happen at Roma.
on the 18th October, 2012 at 8:19pm
Florenzi in - Giaccherini out

Said by a Juventino.
on the 18th October, 2012 at 11:12am
Zeman is and always will be a big zero. To expect him to take Florenzi past his grounding stage is a bit of a stretch. Fact is, if Florenzi wants to start collecting medals, either he needs to leave Roma, or Zeman has to get the sack. He'll never get anywhere playing under Zeman.
on the 18th October, 2012 at 6:29am
In between the politics of football it is good to get a good news story.
on the 17th October, 2012 at 10:41pm
RossoneriFido, when you are coaching a team higher then your backyard team then your opinion might matter....
on the 17th October, 2012 at 9:32pm
A battered/ramshackle car... what car did he have ???
on the 17th October, 2012 at 4:53pm
what people must understand is that the azzurri at this moment in time is a 'work in progress'. let prandelli do his work. trying to qualify, at the same time trying to assemble the best formidable team looking at brazil 2014. guys like florenzi are a breath-of-fresh-air for prandelli. florenzi doesn't need a call-up at this very second, but keeping an eye on his progress is a MUST. he is a young talent. zeman saw something good in this kid. now everyone is aware he is out there and in good form
on the 17th October, 2012 at 4:16pm
De Sciglio, Florenzi, Immobile, Veratti, Insigne, Marrone... the future of Italy !!!
on the 17th October, 2012 at 4:00pm
keep an eye on this one.. I think Roma will cash-in on Florenzi. him or De Rossi. i think Roma can't afford to have more then 3 Romans on the team.. For some reason..
on the 17th October, 2012 at 2:57pm
he's going to be an excellent player. i thought he was wasted a bit for the under 21's playing wide on the right as believe his best position is in the centre of midfield.
i'd have him in the italian squad now.
on the 17th October, 2012 at 1:27pm
Zeman sucks big time. Case closed
on the 17th October, 2012 at 1:14pm
This kid is going to be a star, he was outstanding over the two legs against Sweden, watch this space.
on the 17th October, 2012 at 12:57pm
zeman is a good coach, and florenzi is the right material. good luck!
on the 17th October, 2012 at 12:07pm

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