Italy starlet Gnonto: ‘Azzurri squad is young, we must grow’

Breakout Italy starlet Wilfried Gnonto thanked his parents for his eye for goal and underlined the next steps for himself and a young Azzurri side.

The 18-year-old Italian forward was an unknown heading into this international break, with only the keenest of Italian football fans keeping an eye on the teenager. Everything changed after 25 minutes on the pitch against Germany at the start of this month, where he provided a crucial assist and showed heaps on potential. He netted in the 5-2 loss to Hansi Flick’s side earlier this week.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Gnonto first looked back at the importance of his family to his life and career.

“In these days I have realised many dreams that I had when I started playing. And I owe it to the many sacrifices made, especially by my parents. What they did for me was incredible.

“Many times there was no money to go to Milan for training, my mum worked in a hotel in Baveno and hoped for tips to pay for petrol. When I was little I couldn’t realise, but now that I’m 18 these things cause me a strange feeling.”

He suggested that he did not joined FC Zurich for the money.

“Many people have said that I left Inter for Zurich just for the money, but that’s not true. It was the right thing to do to play in the first team. Zurich took a risk on me, I was lucky to meet them. And also to have my parents with me.”

He touched on what coach Roberto Mancini said to the young players before this international break.

“He gathered the 8-9 players he called up after the internship and told us we had to be ready. There I understood that he really believed in us.

“And that left its mark on me. What the coach did with us young players was not at all obvious. It was a strong signal.”

Finally, Gnonto spoke about his goal against Germany and the new-look Italy side.

“It was no use, I’m sorry it came in such a defeat. The most important thing was to win, instead it went badly. It’s not a question of Gnonto or I don’t know who else. The Germans were superior in all aspects, they are far ahead of us and certainly not since yesterday.

“We are a young squad, many had never played together until a fortnight ago. We are trying to start again and we have two difficult but good years ahead of us, there is enthusiasm, quality and experience.

“Let’s see what happens. In the meantime, I am thinking about doing well at the Under-19 European Championship, we have a strong team.”

Gnonto scored eight goals and provided three assists in 33 Swiss Super League appearances this season.