I’ve been trying to keep my mind off of the whole Fiorentina managerial drama, and luckily we have a major tournament taking place. Watching some actual football, instead of reading all the latest rumours and stories is much more enjoyable.
As my own country, Ireland, are not competing at the Euros, I certainly took an interest in Poland’s progress (or lack of it), as this is where I’m currently living. In reality though, Italy are the team I will always want to do well. While all those football fans who take no interest in Serie A constantly underestimate their chances, those of us who follow Italian football very closely know that this squad of players have every chance of going very far in this competition.
Italy is also the only squad at the Euros that contains a Fiorentina player, when Gaetano Castrovilli was a late call-up as an injury replacement. For now he has only made one very brief appearance as a substitute, and in the other games he wasn’t named among the subs. With the way the team has been playing, and also the replacements used so far, it’s difficult to see Castrovilli having much of a part to play, but there is of course another player who started last season with Fiorentina.
Yes, I am talking about Federico Chiesa, he who left us to join our most bitter rivals. For some, maybe a lot, this may be reason enough to see him want to fail, to fall flat on his face, or at the very least, not have any part to play in Italy’s possible success. It’s already too late for that, and when he came on in the game on Saturday against Austria, his goal certainly brought him even more attention from the foreign media.
As a Fiorentina fan, how did you react to his goal? Let’s be honest here, Chiesa took his chance beautifully. He didn’t rush the shot, and after taking the first touch with his chest, his next move completely fooled his marker and gave him enough time to calmly rifle the ball past the Austrian keeper. As someone cheering on Italy and wanting them to win, how could I be anything but happy that they had finally got the breakthrough, no matter who scored the goal. It’s not as if he was wearing that horrible black and white jersey, he did it in the Azzurri shirt.
So at the risk of alienating even more Fiorentina fans, I will now admit that I celebrated that goal as if it had been scored by any other Italian player. It wasn’t begrudgingly, in a half-hearted manner, or anything like that. Here was a product of Fiorentina, a player who had come up through the ranks at the club from a young age, and now he’s making his name on the international stage. Sure, it would have been great to see it happen with Chiesa still playing for Fiorentina, but looking at how the club has been run recently, I can hardly blame a player for looking to further his career elsewhere.
There is also the Roberto Mancini link to Fiorentina, having started his managerial career at the club. His time here may not be recalled very fondly by many Viola fans, but we have to admit, he has this Italy side playing attractive and winning football. Watching him celebrate each goal with Gianluca Vialli brings back great memories of Serie A in its golden era.
There will always be a sector of Fiorentina fans, mainly those who live in Florence itself, who will never cheer on the Italian national side. For me, I cannot see how you wouldn’t want your own country to win. I was in Italy back in 2006 when they won the World Cup, and would absolutely love to see them win this Euro 2020 tournament. I would love to see Italy crowned as European Champions, and yes, part of that reason is to show the rest of the footballing world that Italian football still deserves respect, despite not being the hype machine that the English Premier League has become.
The main reason though, is simply that I love Italy. I love the people, the language, the music, the food, the coffee, the culture, the football, and the country, despite all its faults and flaws. This is why I will be cheering on Italy, Federico Chiesa and Roberto Mancini included.