Ex-Inter Milan rookie Reno out to spark Olyroos’ Tokyo bid


He idolises Vince Grella and Mark Bresciano and played for the Azzurri as a junior - but now Italy-based attacker Reno Piscopo is committed to giving the Olyroos a cutting edge as they chase a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 20-year-old Melbourne-born former Inter Milan junior, who headed to the Nerazzurri academy aged just 12, is technical and tricky, and making rapid progress after a permanent switch to Serie C side Renate.

Honed and shaped in an unforgiving environment where mental toughness and a relentless work ethic are every bit as important as abundant skills, Piscopo aims to inject a little savoir faire into the Olyroos team currently in Malaysia preparing for next week’s AFC Championship qualifiers in neighboring Cambodia. 

“I’ve learned that you’ve got to work hard ... it’s not all about technical side of the game,” he said of his time at the cut-throat Inter talent school.

“There are great players out there you don’t even know of. But you have to keep growing and learning.

“I look at how successful Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella were during their careers in Italy and you can nothing 
but respect for them. 

“I’ve met Grella and I think Bresciano when I was much younger. They’re an inspiration for me.”

Having stepped down a level in pursuit of game time, the nimble and diminutive Piscopo - who can operate out wide or even as a number ten - has scored four goals in 27 appearances this season for the team lying 15th in their division.

He has brought abundant confidence with him into the Olyroos camp in Kuala Lumpur where they face Malaysia’s Under-23’s in a final warm-up on Sunday night.

“For me, there’s no better feeling than playing for Australia,” added the former Young Socceroo.

“I’ve had the chance to play for Italy and Australia and it’s totally different feeling. It felt great going into camp for the first time in Bahrain with the Under-20s. It just felt right.

“One day I hope to get the chance to play for the Socceroos. That’s my dream.”

Piscopo credits Inter with fashioning his game and his outlook on a fledgling career.

“It was just unbelievable, the facilities and the places you go when you play for Inter as a youngster,” he said.

"I took my chances and signed young in Italy and I’ve developed the Inter Milan way.

"They’ve taught me what they know and what they think is best, and it’s helped my game a lot, in my attacking and my defending.

“I’ve had the Italian experience, the Italian school of soccer you could say. Learning to play different positions, learning how to defend better, learning how to move without the ball.”

Though he’s had to take a step back to move forward again, he wouldn’t trade the experience.

“It was a big deal at the start, signing with Inter. It’s an option that you can’t say no, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he added.

“I said I’d go for a year and see how it is. I wanted to come back after a month because I was so young and didn’t know the language.”

But he’s persevered and aims to be a game-breaker for Arnold.

“I can’t wait to get on the pitch with Arnie, see his ideas and learn off him and get advice off him,” said Piscopo as Australia look to step things up after failing to qualify for the past two Olympics.

"That’s what I’m looking forward to and of course, winning for the Olyroos.”