Can Fernando Forestieri Be the Pioneer to Inspire a Generation of Italian Footballers To Go From Italy To England.
Italian footballers have never truly had great success in English football. With the Premier League full to the brim with global talent, European talent is having to think about the Championship as a way in. Unfortunately for some it can also the start of the end. Working hard to buck the trend is Fernando Forestieri who has worked hard to make himself a commodity in England’s second division and while other Italians lay at the wayside he is forging his own path.
Forestieri may have been born in Argentina, but his heritage and football education is definitely Italian. He joined Genoa as a teenager and took part in the right of passage for most in Italian football before last season by being part of a co-ownership deal with Siena. After not breaking through he ended up at Udinese and under the umbrella of the Pozzo family. The family has an affiliate club in England, Watford FC, and it was inevitable that the Italian would have a chance to crack the English game.
He spent three years at Watford making the move permanent after a first season loan. He had seemingly finally found the game time and club where he belonged. His performances earned him 17 goals in 66 appearances, but the constant instability of managers, followed by a promotion to the Premier League saw him unfairly move down the pecking order. New signings were made for their season in the top flight and Forestieri was deemed surplus to requirements. Luckily his performances afforded him plenty of suitors who lined up for his signature. Sheffield Wednesday won the race and signed him up for £3m.
He had got a starting berth at a sleeping giant with huge potential and repayed the faith showed in him with a stellar first season. He finished the season as the clubs top scorer in all competitions with 15 goals which made him a fan favourite and only petulance would ruin it. Petulance it was then that saw him refuse to play early this season against Norwich. The large £7m offer from Derby likely turned his head or get a higher wage, whatever it was, he had ruined all he had earned. For someone who was tossed around in his early years, to jeopardise his place would be ruining his opportunity to showcase Italian talent in England.
Many have tried and failed. Arturo Lupoli was the talk of the town at Arsenal, but even dropping down a division didn’t help his cause as he disappeared into obscurity. Federico Macheda may have started with a bang and stunning goal for Manchester United vs Aston Villa, but he found the going harder as a starter and in the Championship. He currently finds himself without a club. Alberto Aquilani is another who came and went without a sniff, but a heavy receipt for Liverpool.
Forestieri would be wise to heed all these warnings and continue on the path he was on before the controversy. I doubt the motivation for the strike was money after he recently hit the news for the right reasons. But if it was a career choice then he must not rush. One year is not long enough to earn the career longevity he desires and he needs to realise that after being overlooked he finally has a starting berth with a big club. If I was Fernando I would be trying to win those fans over and his recent winning penalty against Huddersfield is a great way to start. He could be vital in their chase for promotion. People will lay a lot of excuses as to why Italians don’t do it over the channel. The pace of the game, the mentality or cultural differences, but I think it is simply a case of needing a trailblazing player to dispel the stereotype and show young Italians that England is not a curse but an opportunity. Fernando Forestieri can potentially be that pioneer as long as he keeps his head down and putting the ball in the net for Sheffield Wednesday.