The Boy Davide From Italy
It seems an odd football career plan, even in these days of regular international transfers, that starts in a youth team at Inter Milan, then heads in the direction of the English professional leagues. Still odder when the progress from Italy to England is routed through Hastings. You might think there’s been a programming error on someone’s football satnav. But not according to 18-year-old Italian player Davide Rodari, currently banging in the goals for Hastings United, nor to his enthusiastic manager Chris Agutter who foresees a swift rise in status for his protege.
Davide hails from Novara, a town 30 miles west of Milan. He was spotted aged 10 playing for a local junior team at a football summer camp and was picked for the Inter under-11s team. Later he played regular youth league matches for Pro Vercelli, a Serie B club in the same region. But he persuaded himself and his family that there might be more opportunities in taking his talents to England (“and less politics”, he says – “in Italy it’s who you know, not how well you play”) . He sent off e-mails lin 2016 to a number of English club academies. Chris, at that time academy manager at Eastbourne Borough, was first to respond. He offered Davide a trial and signed him to Eastbourne. Then, having himself been appointed assistant manager at Hastings, he persuaded the young Italian that there were greater prospects of making an immediate impact in adult football here. Chris could not only give glowing reports of the Hastings academy set-up at Sussex Coast College but also promise more opportunities for first team play in the Bostik League, two tiers below Eastbourne’s National League status.
And so it has turned out. Davide’s scoring feats for under-19 and under-21 teams have brought quick elevation to the first team, where he has become a regular starter for the ‘U’s on the right flank. A sumptuous strike against Carshalton in October showed his flair in front of goal. In the recent win at Herne Bay he was given the responsibility of penalty taker in the absence of Dayshonne Golding and saw his kick saved, but won a second penalty a few minutes later, and had the confidence to step up again and bury it. Supporters are getting used to his trademark double foot shuffle on the ball. Defenders are struggling to match it.
Davide attends the College during the week, undertaking a personal training course that will qualify him as a Level 3 fitness instructor. But that is a sensible Plan B for any budding footballer whose career is always at risk from injury. Plan A is very much focussed on what can happen on the pitch.
Chris Agutter and the United board recognise that, if things go well for Davide, Hastings is only a first rung on the ladder. AFC Wimbledon offered a trial at the end of last season. Scouts from other clubs will be marking him out. However any eventual move upwards will be seen as a positive example for other academy hopefuls, confirmation that Hastings is a place where opportunities knock for footballers of talent. And in the meantime the home club and its fans have the privilege of watching a particular talent start to blossom.