Meet the Italy striker who has never lived in the country & can’t speak Italian
MATEO RETEGUI has well and truly burst onto the international scene.
The 23-year-old, born in Argentina, has scored on his first two appearances for Italy, including one in the 2-1 defeat to England.
But Retegui, currently on loan at Argentinian side Club Atletico Tigre from Boca Juniors, has never even played or lived in Italy.
In fact, according to CBS, he can’t even speak Italian.
England boss Gareth Southgate recently bemoaned his lack of home grown Premier League options, and Italy gaffer Roberto Mancini has done the same with his pool of strikers.
With Ciro Immobile injured and Gianluca Scamacca warming the bench at West Ham, Mancini was forced to scour overseas for potential stars to call up.
In doing so he found Retegui, born 12 miles north of Buenos Aires, but eligible to play for Italy through his maternal grandfather.
Off the field his Instagram account suggests he is a dog lover, and he is represented by Italy legend Francesco Totti’s agency CT10 Management.
His dad, Carlos, played hockey for Argentina at three different Olympic games, with Retegui himself also said to have played as a child.
Now starring on the football field, Retegui’s recent form was hard for Mancini to ignore.
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Since joining Tigre on loan from Argentinian giants Boca Juniors last February, he has hit 29 goals in 51 games for the club, including six in eight this season.
That was enough for Retegui, who represented Argentina at youth level, to be called up for the Italy senior side for Euro 2024 qualifiers against England and Malta.
In doing so Mancini went against one of his own beliefs from years past.
The former City boss recently admitted, via the Times: “Years ago, I said that [only] players who are born in Italy should play for the national team.
“But the world has changed. Every national team in Europe and in the world generally have players coming from abroad or originally from other nations.
“We have players who played with us in the youth teams but were eventually picked by their countries in the senior team.
“[Gareth] Southgate has complained about the same thing, but our situation is even worse. If there is a possibility of taking new players, we will take them.”
And Mancini has been immediately repaid for taking a punt on the little-known forward.
First there was the ice cool finish against England in Naples last Thursday, followed by a smart header from a corner in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Malta.
He is just the fourth ever player to score in their first two games for Italy.
So inevitably the transfer rumours have begun.
In the Premier League, Corriere dello Sport claim rivals Brighton and Crystal Palace are interested in his services.
While Corriere della Sera say Inter Milan assistant sporting director Dario Baccin was in the stands to watch Retegui in Sunday’s win over Malta.
Never playing in Italy and not speaking the language is no problem for Retegui, who could be Mancini’s long-term solution up front as he resets his Italy side following the embarrassing failure to qualify for last year’s World cup.
Source: The Sun
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