Willy Gnonto made the perfect Italy debut, as the 18-year-old provided an assist within five minutes against Germany. ‘I didn’t think of anything other than taking the defender on.’
The teenage Inter youth academy product is currently playing for FC Zurich and earned his place in the Azzurri squad for the Nations League.
He made an immediate impact, within five minutes of coming off the bench for Matteo Politano, he whipped in the assist for Lorenzo Pellegrini, before Joshua Kimmich got the equaliser in a final 1-1 result.
“It was a strange and exhilarating week, the coach gave me a chance and I think I made the most of it,” he grinned on RAI Sport.
“It’s all going so fast, I just try to enjoy the moment and every training session, because being here is a privilege.”
Gnonto was born and raised in the Piedmont region, though his parents emigrated from the Ivory Coast.
“I owe everything to my family, as since I was little they made so many sacrifices for me and I try to repay them as best I can. I only hope they are proud of me.”
He caused constant problems for the German defence even after the goal, but described the assist.
“I knew Kehrer was already booked, so when I got the ball, I didn’t think of anything other than taking him on. I was determined to get past him and the ball from that angle is the toughest for a goalkeeper and defender to deal with.
“If you are a striker, you need to make the difference and I did that tonight.”
Although Gnonto is an Inter youth academy product, he had to go out to FC Zurich to get regular playing time.
“I felt very much at home at Inter, but at a certain point you need to make difficult decisions. Fortunately, I had my parents and agents who helped me through the process. It was a risk, but at this age, you’ve got to play.”
After the 3-0 Finalissima defeat to Argentina at Wembley, Gnonto tried to get a picture with Lionel Messi. Did he manage?
“I tried standing outside the locker room for an hour, but no!”
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) June 4, 2022