Nazionale U21

U21: A golden year for Viti: "In only one year, Serie A with Empoli and the Under-21s, now, I live in Nice"

The defender from Tuscany is getting ready for the friendly against Japan in Castel di Sangro: "We are a united group with lots of quality. I dreamt about wearing the Azzurri shirt since childhood. Now, I'm just missing a goal."

Friday, September 23, 2022

U21: A golden year for Viti:

One year and two days ago, on 22 September 2021, Mattia Viti made his Serie A debut for Empoli. On only one year, the defender from Borgo San Lorenzo has had his life turned upside down. He has become a mainstay in the Under-21's defence and has recently 'emigrated' to France, where he now plays his club football for Nice, after coming through the ranks at the Tuscan club. "I would recommend to every young player like me to experience what I'm experiencing now," explains Viti in the press conference, "because it makes you grow as a person. I'm experiencing a new world, and a new language that I'm learning with the help of a teacher."

Next weekend in Ligue 1, OGC Nice will welcome PSG with Messi, Neymar and Mbappé coming to town: for Viti, though, there's Monday's friendly against Japan at Castel di Sangro (15:30 CEST, live RaiSport) to think about: "We know they are a well-organised side, that they might pay for from a physical point of view, but have quality regardless. We need to be fully aware of them." Viti, born in 2002 like many of his teammates in the Under-21s, is a couple of years younger but has already become an integral part of Paolo Nicolato's side: "There's a lot of top individual talent in the group, but there's also character as well. Against England, after a difficult first half, the changes made after the break gave us an extra gear. There's no resentment around, everyone knows that success is made through the collective."

Mattia says he has been dreaming about wearing the Azzurri shirt since he was four years old when he celebrated Italy's 2006 World Cup win with his family at home and around the streets of his hometown: "It's my first Azzurri memory. Getting to play for the First Team is every player's dream, and it's great to know that both Nicolato and Mancini aren't afraid to pick young players. I'm very fortunate for the journey I'm having: at Empoli, Simone Romagnoli took me under his wing, and now at Nice, there's Dante who has great experience. I need to improve, without doubt, but I'm someone who enjoys hard work."

The major difference between football in France and Italy is the rhythm of the game and the fact that once the ball arrives to the forwards, they immediately go for goal," but there is something Viti would like to change as soon as possible: "I've not yet scored, one for the Azzurri would be a dream. I came close against England..." The conncetion and love with Italy hasn't been broken, though: "I had 13 years at Empoli, it's more of a family to me than a squad. When there's the chance, I never miss a game, and try to keep up with all the teams, players and style of play in Serie A; I like to take things from others. I'll forever be grateful towards Empoli, who have worked wonders for young players for many years now. I've already spoken with Cambiaghi, who moved there recently, he's gone to the right place to develop. There's pressure, as there is everywhere, but less experienced players are given time and opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them."

A word also for the First Team squad's win over England in the Nations League: "I know Raspadori and his technical quality very well, unfortunately. He scored against us last year (Empoli vs. Sassuolo): that goal for the First Team topped it though; it was a superb strike."

With two days to go before the friendly with Japan, the Under-21 side are back to training tomorrow afternoon in Castel di Sangro, where the Japanese come off the back of a defeat to Switzerland in Marbella (Spain). Led by the Go Oiwa, who has taken his first training session at the "Teofilo Patini", can rely on three players who play in European Leagues: Goalkeeper Leobrian Kokubo (Benfica, Portugal) and midfielders Koki Saito (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and Satoshi Tanaka (Kortrijk, Belgium). 

Squad List

Goalkeepers: Elia Caprile (Bari), Alessandro Sorrentino (Monza), Stefano Turati (Frosinone);
Defenders: Raoul Bellanova (Inter), Andrea Cambiaso (Bologna), Simone Canestrelli (Pisa), Alessandro Circati (Parma), Caleb Okoli (Atalanta), Fabiano Parisi (Empoli), Lorenzo Pirola (Salernitana), Matteo Ruggeri (Atalanta), Giorgio Scalvini (Atalanta), Mattia Viti (OGC Nice), Destiny Iyenoma Udogie (Udinese);
Midfielders: Edoardo Bove (Roma), Nicolò Fagioli (Juventus), Fabio Miretti (Juventus), Filippo Ranocchia (Monza), Nicolò Rovella (Monza), Emanuel Vignato (Bologna);
Forwards: Nicolò Cambiaghi (Empoli), Lorenzo Colombo (Lecce), Sebastiano Esposito (Anderlecht), Luca Moro (Frosinone).