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Flags of convenience and stereotyping

There is quite a stir in Italian football after the selection of Eder whose only connection to Italy is a great grandparent. Otherwise he is Brazilian. Interestingly the same issue has arisen with Diego Costa the Chelsea  striker who played for Spain much to the chagrin of Brazil but not the Spanish.

Stefano says that Italian football is more parochial than the other major leagues. They would never endorsed a foreign national manager whilst we have had two. He continued that it’s essentially pragmatic. The azzurri’s choice of forwards Toni and Di Natale are 37 so there is dearth of younger strikers. Eder looked a clever mobile forward whose link  play was more impressive that he’s “one of our own” Harry Kane.

Watching the game on ITV and the analysis of Andy Townsend I found myself incensed by the stereotyping of Italian defenders as cynical cheats. The fact is that the Italian defender knows how to defend, is usually two-footed whereas the English equivalent is normally a no-nonsense technically limited stopper, epitomised by brave heart Terry Butcher bandaged head swathed in blood, or a full back who can attack but is caught out positionally or recovers too slowly in defence. The one that Townsend singled out was Chielini. Stefano recalled him as a young player at Fiorentina on loan from Juve and says quite simply he is one of the best defenders in the world as adaptable and adept in a back three or in a four as full back. Over the past 50 years I can only think of Bobby Moore making a World XI whilst Italy has produced Facchetti, Scirea, Maldini, Baresi, Bergomi and now Chielini who would.

About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts