Continuing with our Fiorentina Spotlights, ViolaNation was fortunate to be invited to watch a Primavera practice and sit down with Bobby Duncan afterwards to talk about life in Firenze with the Viola.
After what seemed to be a pretty trying summer for Bobby Duncan, things are going pretty well for him right now. Since signing with Fiorentina as an 18 year old for a pretty substantial fee, Bobby has been clicking on all cylinders. He has three goals in six Primavera games, one goal in his first Supercoppa Primavera, and he just netted two goals and an assist for the English under-19s this week in a game against Luxembourg. Clearly happy with his performance and excited for his next opportunity, Bobby posted this on his Twitter account. “First game of are Euro qualifiers today. GREAT 4-0 win and a clean sheet fantastic team performance from the lads. Buzzing to get another 2 goals and a assist onto the next game now!!!”
Since leaving England for Firenze, Bobby has received mixed reviews from Liverpool fans. The support in Firenze from Fiorentina fans has been nothing short of stellar though he tells us. Both club and fans have made Bobby feel at home; in a city he had never been to, and in a language he only now learns. This has gone a long way to helping Bobby feel at home in Firenze and on the pitch for Fiorentina, something that was evident during a 3-nil win over Roma. Click here and fast forward to the 52 second mark to see Bobby boom a goal that would make even Superman jealous.
ViolaNation: How is the move going so far?
Bobby Duncan: It is going very well.
VN: What is your favorite spot of the city?
BD: My favorite part of the city so far is Piazza Ferrucci. It feels like home. I like to be where everything is going on and when people are around me I feel at home.
VN: Are people starting to recognize you now in Florence?
BD: Oh yea. When I am walking around Florence people are stopping me and taking selfies. It’s nice. The people here are very friendly and pleasant.
VN: Do you have a favorite restaurant yet?
BD: Koko’s, a sushi restaurant.
VN: Who were your heroes growing up?
BD: Luis Suarez and Leo Messi.
VN: On Fifa 20, you are rated a 61 with a potential of 81. What are your thoughts on those rankings? What is wrong?
BD: [laughing] There is a lot wrong there; shot, strength, pace. Next year will be my year. I have a feeling I will prove them wrong this year and improve those rankings.
VN: Do you play?
VN: Do you prefer Fifa or Fortnight?
BD: [Laughs] I play a lot of both to be honest. I didn’t play the old Fifa but I play it now because I am on it. I did play a lot of Fortnight last year when it exploded. Last night I retired from FIFA though. My two brothers beat me four - nil and two – one. So now I’m retired!
VN; Do you play as yourself in Fifa?
BD: No, not yet. Fifa just updated it, but before I was still with Liverpool.
VN: Right now it is cold and rainy back in England, how do you like the sun here in Florence?
BD: Life here is amazing. When I am in Liverpool and its raining, it brings a doubt to the morning. When you are in Florence and you see the sunshine, you feel you are ready to go for the day and you are happy.
VN: ViolaNation member question (Maurizio Gamberucci) – How do we get Stephen Gerard to be a Fiorentina fan?
BD: [Laughing] I think he is now to be honest. He is cheering for us and for me. He is keeping a close eye on me and the results of the team. He wants to see us do well.
VN: What do you do in your spare time?
BD: Explore the city. I haven’t been able to visit all the sites, but I am trying. I went to Piazzale Michelangelo. It has the most unbelievable views. This city is just mind-blowing.
VN: Tell us about leaving Liverpool and what went in to that process?
BD: It was a difficult decision to be honest. I was in a difficult moment at that time. Something was missing. It wasn’t over money. It wasn’t over anything else other than I want to play first team football soon. Liverpool has Mohamed Salah, Fermino, Manne, Brewster. That front three is the best front three in the world. It was hard to knock them down. In my mind I thought I would go and play abroad. Serie A is just below the Premier League. I wanted to make a name for myself, show the Liverpool and Fiorentina fans who I am. I always loved Liverpool, but my love now is to the Fiorentina fans. I need to repay them for showing me the love since I arrived. Leaving Liverpool was a difficult decision. I was only there for a year, but I didn’t see the path forward for me there.
VN: Why did you choose Fiorentina?
BD: There were a couple clubs coming after me. I thought that with the new owners coming in, with Rocco Commisso wanting to win trophies, build the club up, it matched my ambitions. I thought it would be an unbelievable experience to get into the first team, develop under Montella and Bigica. Vincezo Virgine believes in me. Hopefully I can pay them back now.
VN: What has been the most difficult part of moving from Liverpool to Florence?
BD: I miss my family back home. They do fly over to visit me, but I do miss them. To be honest, I lived in Spain as a kid for 10 years. I’ve always been away from home [Liverpool] as a kid, and I can adapt to anything. This is the sacrifice you must make in football though. In order to be a top footballer you have to make these sacrifices.
VN: Has anyone here stood out in helping you acclimate to Florence?
BD: Yes, Vincenzo Virgine and all the staff. Joe Barone. Everyone has taken a part in welcoming me and getting me settled. Now all I have to do is succeed and pay them back.
VN: ViolaNation member question (Quattro Stelle) - Do you have to learn Italian? Do you have a favorite Italian phrase?
BD: Sure, I like to say “Bene” or “Tu Bene”. My grandfather lived in Italy for many years. He always told me there is nothing better than living here. He was right.
[I break in to a sidebar. “I have a favorite saying every time I am in Firenze and I think it may help you. Mi dispiace. Non parlo molto Itliano. It means, I am sorry, I don’t speak much Italian. I told Bobby I would write it down for him in the article so he could use it moving forward. Here you go Bobby!]
VN: What has been the biggest difference in training between the English and Italian leagues?
BD: Italian is more physical and tactical. England it is more possession. Italy is feistier. When you step on the pitch, it’s war here. In England we play out of the back. It’s different, but in many ways not that much. I think I am better served in the Italian game though. I like that here I can get into it. I love the scoring goals, but I like the dirty side of the game as well.
VN: How has Emiliano Bigica influenced your understanding of the game?
BD: A lot. When I first came here, I couldn’t understand much [Italian], but now I am understanding more. First thing you notice is his passion for the game. It is second to none. He is an experienced player. I watched a lot of his YouTube videos. he was a very, very good player. He should have been on the National team.
VN: What players have impressed you most since you arrived here?
BD: Christian Koffi, I think he has unbelievable potential. He will be a very big player for the first team. I look forward to playing with him and watching him grow.
VN: Why did you switch from number 9 to 26?
BD: 26 is my birthday and it is a lucky number for me. It has a lot of history as my dad played in that number. I want to earn number 9. Pedro has it now, so I will have to earn it. I have to get out there and score a lot of goals and do well for the club to earn it.
VN: Which is better, smashing home a 30-yard strike or dribbling past three defenders before slotting home a goal?
BD: This is a tough one. I’ll go with the 40-yard strike. It is a very tough to do that. If you score a 40 yarder you meant to do that. When I scored mine a few weeks ago I meant it. It takes a lot of technique and practice. I train on the pitch to do that. You must have the confidence from a young age to get out there and drill it.
VN: ViolaNation member question (Tanu Weyojo) - You are the second English player to play for Fiorentina. What is your ambition? What do you want your legacy to be here in Florence?
BD: That is a big one. I want to set the bar for the English in Italy. Not many English players go abroad. We have one standout player outside of England, Jadon Sancho, and he is a good friend of mine after playing at Manchester City together. He is with Borussia Dortmund playing in the Bundesliga though. After he set the trend to go to Germany, I want to set the trend to come to Italy, the second-best league in the world.
I’m not here to stand around and dwell. I am here to score a lot of goals and win right away.
VN: What would you tell a younger player in England about coming to Serie A?
BD: Believe in yourself and make the move. Make the sacrifices, you need to. Since age 8 I have sacrificed friends, school, family, everything for this sport. For those up and coming English players I just say believe in yourselves. Put in the work, make the sacrifices, and find a way to see it through.
A special thank you to Bobby Duncan, Ettore, Vincenzo Virgene, Emiliano Bigica and Fiorentina for granting us this amazing opportunity to interview Bobby. We wish all of you the best of luck for the rest of the year. We have no doubt we will see Bobby smashing home some more bombs from 40 yards out this year!
Please take the time to follow Bobby on his social media and stay up to date on all the latest: