Saturday, January 19, 2008

A slight chance

So this snowball rolls into hell. . .

Years ago, I wrote a story about Guiseppe Rossi, an American kid who was raised by a soccer coach father who taught him to love the country of his heritage, Italy. Rossi was so talented, he was able to move back to Italy at 14 and start a professional career there. He went on to sign with Manchester United. Now he plays in Spain.

Because of his parents, Rossi is eligible to play for Italy and has in fact featured for their youth national teams numerous times.

FIFA rules say that a player can switch to the country of their birth if they've only played for youth teams of another country, but that the move can only be made once. It also has to take place before the player turns 21. Rossi is nearly there - his birthday is in early February.

Last year, Luis had the scoop about U.S. coach Bob Bradley, who is from the area of the country where Rossi grew up, keeping in touch with Rossi. That left the slim possibility that perhaps Rossi was still considering the U.S. as an option.

But the deadline is almost here, and it doesn't seem like an eleventh-hour change of heart is going to happen. Perhaps that's why Bob seemed a little testy when I asked him about Rossi.

I'm not one to worry about the decisions of players. As individuals, they should choose what they want to do. I'm mystified at those who rail at Rossi for playing for Italy, just as I'm puzzled by those who decry Landon Donovan's choice to play in MLS. One's life belongs to no one else.

I still stand by my call in 2005, though. Rossi is a very good player, but not so superlative that he's an automatic choice for Italy, especially when political elements seem to come into play in selection. If Rossi hopes to play in a World Cup, choosing the U.S. team is a safer bet.

I don't think he'll do it, though. I find a kind of poetic irony in the fact that it's likely that both U.S. fans and Rossi may one day rue what might have been had his choice been a different one.


Laurie said...

This happens very frequently with France as well. Players with connections to other, usually African, countries who play a few games with the youth teams and hold out hope for the senior team until it's too late. Very sad when they could be starters for the African teams.

Dead Horse said...

Stop beating me!!!

Soledad said...

"One's life belongs to no one else."

Beautiful. Exactly.

Are people upset with Freddy Adu for playing with the USA? 'Cause I may have missed that brouhaha.

Or outside of football, was there rampant anger in the U.S. at Tim Dincan and Patrick Ewing playing for the U.S?

This topic annoys--I'll just stop.