Nazionale U19

Djankpata, from Togo to Everton with Italy in his heart: "The Azzurri jersey is a dream come true"

The midfielder, originally from Benin, born in 2005, was born in Lomé, raised in Lecco, and found his place in professional football in Liverpool wearing the Everton jersey.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Djankpata, from Togo to Everton with Italy in his heart:

Imagine being born in Togo, growing up in Italy, and finding your footballing dimension in England. The story of Halid Djankpata is a wonderful journey around the world with a suitcase in hand and a fixed goal in mind: to one day wear the jersey of the Italian National Team. A love affair between the midfielder, originally from Benin, and Italy, which could be sealed tomorrow, Wednesday, 14 February, at the 'Guido Teghil' stadium in Lignano Sabbiadoro, precisely on Valentine's Day.

Halid Djankpata

"I'm extremely happy to be here," said the Everton player, excitedly, from the retreat of the Under 19 Azzurri, who will face their Austrian counterparts in a friendly match in 24 hours (14:30 CET, live streaming on the FIGC website). "When the call-up came, I couldn't believe it: it's a dream come true." Born on 13 April 2005, in Lomé to Beninese parents (father Awaly, a freelance professional, and mother Karamatou, a cosmetics representative), he moved, when he was just a few months old, to Lecco. In Lombardy, at the age of 6, he started playing football at Usmate, a grassroots club in the province of Monza, before moving to Casati Calcio Arcore in the summer of 2016 ("I have beautiful memories: I was very well in Italy"). In the 'Italian' memories album, there must be the trials with Atalanta and Brescia ("I said no because of the distance") before moving to Liverpool, due to his parents' work, when he was 11 years old: "Initially, I didn't take it well," Djankpata confesses, "but gradually, I adapted, as did my brothers (Moubarak, Tawab, Rayane, and Raida, ed.)."

Halid Djankpata con la maglia dell'Everton Under 21

In England, he initially wore the Droylsden jersey where, as a striker, he caught the attention of Everton, Liverpool, and Manchester City, who, in 2019, sparked a real bidding war for his services: "In the end, I chose the Toffees," specifies the Italian midfielder, "because, besides being fascinated by their history, they presented the project that I deemed most suitable for me." A project in which Djankpata changed his role on the field, from striker to midfielder, starting to look up to Andrea Pirlo ("My favorite") and Paul Pogba ("I'm a Juventus fan and I consider him a top player"). A football metamorphosis that, after an experience with the Benin National Teams ("I played a friendly with the Under 20s"), brought him to the court of coach Bernardo Corradi and the Italian National Team, as beloved as it is dreamed of.

List of called-up players:

Goalkeepers: Renato Bellucci Marin (Roma), Massimo Pessina (Bologna);

Defenders: Wisdom Amey (Bologna), Christian Corradi (Hellas Verona), Riyad Idrissi (Cagliari), Raphael Kofler (Südtirol), Vittorio Magni (Milan), Mattia Mannini (Roma), Filippo Pagnucco (Juventus), Giacomo Stabile (Inter), Francesco Stante (Inter);

Midfielders: Kevin Bruno (Sassuolo), Aaron Ciammaglichella (Torino), Halid Djankpata (Everton), Jonas Harder (Fiorentina), Alberto Manzoni (Atalanta), Daniele Quieto (Inter);

Forwards: Nicolò Amadori (Cesena), Giulio Misitano (Roma), Filippo Scotti (Milan), Diego Sia (Milan).

Staff - Coach: Bernardo Corradi; Assistant coach: Mirco Gasparetto; Youth National Teams Coordinator: Maurizio Viscidi; Fitness coach: Marco Montini; Goalkeeper coach: Graziano Vinti; Match analyst: Francesco Donzella; Doctors: Andrea Porcino and Paolo Manetti; Nutritionist: Micol Purrotti; Physiotherapists: Giuliano Gepponi and Tommaso Cannata; Secretary: Aldo Blessich.