To see Federico Carraro weaving his magic on a football pitch is to be reminded of Diego. The young Italian midfielder not only plays like the Brazilian playmaker, he even looks like him. Carraro's designer stubble and fringe covering his eyes are carbon copies of his hero's look, and at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 in Nigeria, the Fiorentina youngster has already had a chance to celebrate a goal like his esteemed Juventus rival.
"I idolise him and I've really studied the way he plays," states the affable youngster to FIFA.com. Much like Diego, Carraro is generally reserved off the pitch, but he was still positively glowing with pride the day after the Azzurrini's opening Group F match in Kaduna against Algeria. Just 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute, Carroro scored a spectacular winner, much to the relief of the Italian team. "It was one of the best days of my life so far!" he beamed.
Not that Carraro has been short on success to date. The man who wears the number 20 jersey in coach Pasquale Salerno's squad has recently lifted silverware with Fiorentina and is one of three members of the current U-17 squad who have already been called up by Pierluigi Casiraghi to represent the U-21 team. Though Carraro was not in the starting XI for the tournament opener, he is very much a lynchpin of the Italy squad. "It was an incredible feeling to celebrate the winning goal because it was a really tough match," he said. "But we're Italy and we always want to win."
The way in which the U-17 version of the current FIFA World Cup™ holders closed out the game to make sure of the three points was typically Italian and could well prove to be a launchpad for their Nigeria campaign. "That win was incredibly important. The fact that we ended up winning after such a long and nervous match will really spur us on," said Carraro, whose goal came in the 78th minute after Algeria had squandered a number of gilt-edged chances.
At the Azzurrini camp in Kaduna, optimism is very much the order of the day. "We're hoping to win this tournament. We're confident in our own abilities and have got a really great squad with real team spirit," said Carraro. "The World Cup title would be a dream come true for all of us, but we'll only start thinking about that once we've got through to the next round."
More Diego-esque celebrations
Carraro and his team-mates know that their second match will be a real test. "We've got South Korea next up and I think that it will be the toughest of the group matches," the midfielder said, before displaying some of the legendary Italian confidence. "We hope that we'll be able to put in the kind of performance that we know we're capable of, despite the heat of the afternoon, and if we do, then I know we'll get a result out of it."
Carraro is on the way to becoming a regular member of the Fiorentina first-team squad and is a great admirer of team-mate and Montenegro international Stevan Jovetic. He is thoroughly enjoying his stay in Nigeria too: "It is a great experience here, getting to know so many friendly people. Bellissimo!" Carraro will be hoping to give the passionate Nigerian fans plenty more to shout about. Last Monday's goal went down very well with the locals in Kaduna as did the subsequent celebrations, in true Diego style.