Italy

Kean seizes his moment 

© Getty Images
  • 19-year-old Moise Kean makes first start for Italy
  • Becomes second youngest goalscorer in Italy’s history
  • Juventus forward is accustomed to etching his name in the record books

Injuries to Federico Chiesa, Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Insigne meant Italy’s forward options were more limited than usual going into their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier with Finland. Manager Roberto Mancini, however, had a plan.

Enter Moise Kean. Twenty-three days after his 19th birthday, the Juventus forward was handed his first national team start. In doing so, he became the first player born this century to start for the Azzurri.

"I expect Kean to do what he does best," said Mancini in his pre-match press conference. "He doesn’t have Insigne’s experience, but does bring physicality, enthusiasm and an eye for goal."

Kean certainly displayed that keen goalscoring instinct. Following Nicolo Barella's opener, the debutant doubled Italy's lead at Udine’s Stadio Friuli with a cool finish past Finland goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky in the second half.

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In doing so he become the second youngest scorer for his country since Bruno Nicole opened his account in November 1958, while he also became the Azzurri’s youngest starting striker since Edoardo Mariani in 1912 (19 and 12 days). Kean has his sights set on more records in future.

"I always try to be ready and train regularly so that I’m prepared when the time comes," Kean, who became the first player born in this millennium to feature in the UEFA Champions League, told Rai Sport. “More than being happy, I find it extra motivation to keep working hard. There are many more records for me to beat and I intend to beat them."

At 19-years-old, Kean has many sources of inspiration at his club Juventus – chief among them The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018 Cristiano Ronaldo. "Training alongside my team-mates at Juventus, including Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s impossible not to learn every day," he added.

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It has been quite the March for Kean, bagging a brace against Udinese before making a cameo appearance in Juventus’ valiant comeback against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16.

He could finish the memorable month by registering another appearance for Italy, who take on Lichtenstein at Parma’s Ennio Tardini on Tuesday.

“Kean has quality, enormous potential and it all depends on him," Mancini, who also handed 19-year-old substitute Nicolo Zaniolo his senior debut, told Rai Sport. “It's not difficult to see talent in Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo, so it's not a risk to pick them.”

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