Italy coach Daniele Zoratto has been hammering home a basic tenet of football to his charges at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE: it's the team, not individuals, that win games. Forward Luca Vido has clearly taken the message on board.
The Milan starlet did not get on the scoresheet as Italy finished runners-up in the UEFA European U-17 Championship, but he was the match-winner in the Group B opener after netting the only goal in the victory over Côte d’Ivoire. Was it a relief? “It was extremely important for me,” admitted the player to FIFA.com. But he was quick to add, “It was especially important for the team, which played well as a unit meaning that one goal could win it. I’m very happy.”
After ending a long barren patch for the Azzurri, the forward left Ras Al Khaimah beaming with happiness, embraced by several of his team-mates, yet he was keen to share the credit with the team as a whole.
The goal, scored just nine seconds into the second half, had a bit of everything. Andrea Palazzi received a short pass in the centre circle and tried to find Gennaro Tutino with a raking ball down the right wing. He over-hit it, but defender Ismael Diallo botched his attempted clearance and gifted the ball to Vido, in the centre. The forward needed no second invitation, controlling the ball and shooting home in one movement.
“We had practiced the kick-off routine, with the coach giving us instructions about what to do. We applied it in the game, although I enjoyed a stroke of luck with the ball falling to me like it did,” said Vido, again keen to share the laurels with others, and neglecting to mention his unerring finish. Before nestling in the back of the net, the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, well out of the reach of goalkeeper Seck Diabagate’s 6’3 frame. The entire team ran to Vido to mob him in celebration.
Taking his chance
The Milan youngster emphasises the importance of Zoratto, following his surprise inclusion in the Azzurri squad shortly before the European Championship. His words go beyond the usual mundane platitudes.
“The coach really believed in me, gave me a chance, and thankfully I made an impression on him. I never thought I’d be selected for the European Championship, let along the World Cup a few months later. Being here is an immense honour for any squad member.” Once again, Vido makes reference to the collective aspect.
This discourse sits well with the message conveyed by Zoratto. Retaining his usual calm, polite and determined demeanour, the coach explains: “I don’t care who scores the goals; it can be a forward or a defender. What’s important is the team. Moreover, in our side the forwards also defend. Goals are important, but it’s the team that matters.”
Nonetheless, the coach admits that the strike could trigger better things from Vido, a player with fine technique and an ideal partner for the towering Alberto Cerri, who himself looks built to score goals. “Goals are the lifeblood of a forward. They boost their self-esteem. I’m happy for the lad, who has turned in very strong performances.”
Self-esteem is a vital characteristic for any adolescent – even more so for a footballer, striving to build a career. Now at Milan for three years, Vido has been working his way through the club’s ranks – he is currently in the youth team, under the orders of Filippo Inzaghi – and as the senior team comes into view, anxiety naturally increases.
“It’s tough, because in Italy young players are not taken advantage of. It’s a bit different to what happens in other countries. But I’m highly motivated to show what I can do, to make progress and to get noticed,” said the forward, in a rare allusion to his individual ambitions. Going far with Italy at UAE 2013 can accelerate this process. And Vido knows he can count on all his team-mates who are striving for the same goal.