Meet the Roma-based Aussie who’s been snapped up by Totti


As if landing a three-year contract with Serie A supernovas Roma wasn’t enough, forging an alliance with the legendary Francesco Totti in the process smacks of outrageous good fortune.

This is the new normal for transplanted Sydney-raised 16-year-old Cristian Volpato, after trading the tranquil harbourside suburb of Hunters Hill for the endless possibilities of the Eternal City.

And all that after being released last October by Western Sydney Wanderers, apparently deemed not good enough for the A-League.

A budding No.10 in the Totti mould, the youngster is now rubbing shoulders with the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Fabio Cannavaro and Filippo Inzaghi - courtesy of becoming the first client of La Magica maestro Totti in his new life as a player agent.

On top of all this, the Italian Football Federation have expressed interest in bringing dual nationality Volpato into their national junior setup and pinch him from under Australia’s noses.

Currently back home, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Volpato - who turns 17 in November - will return to training with Roma’s second team in the Primavera competition, after impressing early in the New Year following his January signing.

A bit overwhelming? Not for the self-assured Volpato, who is seemingly taking it all his stride.

“It’s always been my aim to play in Italy - and it’s an incredible environment at Roma. It’s the best,” Volpato said.

“There are world class players everywhere, quality from all over the world.”

The move to Roma came after a trial - he scored a hat-trick in one game inside 15 minutes after coming off the bench. The offer was on the table within days.

Totti spotted the rookie and was intrigued, a meeting was set up and the second highest scorer in the history of the Scudetto became his mentor.

“He’s looking after me now - and with his name you can go anywhere because people know him so well,” Volpato said.

“He just said he saw me and liked the way I play. I’m a No.10 like him and he told me there was something different about me.

“I’m just happy to have him there in my corner but when I get back, I need to just keep working hard and developing and hopefully make an impression.

“It doesn’t matter how famous your agent is, it’s what you do on the pitch that matters.”

Addressing the prospect of possibly representing the Azzurri is a tantalising one for Volpato, who has never been involved with the Australian setup.

“Yes, there has been a bit of interest there but we’ll have to see what happens,” he said.

“Of course it would be a big compliment but I’m not thinking about those type of things too much at the moment - my main priority is to build something at club level and see where that might lead to.”

Volpato previously trialled at AC Milan, Verona and Atalanta and there was interest from Bologna.

His arrival in Rome has coincided with a growth spurt, which has seen him shoot up 30cm in the last two years, along with adding extra bulk to augment his finesse.

He is grateful to an Italian star of yesteryear - former Milan, Lazio and Verona midfielder - Andrea Icardi for helping him tap into his potential.

Icardi, who ran the AC Milan Sydney coaching academy with Anton Tagliaferro before his recent return home, spotted Volpato as a five-year-old and took him under his wing for over six years.

“He’s creative and talented, mainly on his left side and while he was a small player developing, he’s shot up now and I think he can go a long way in the game,” Icardi said.

“I think Totti sees a bit of himself in him - somebody who can do do something different and score and set up goals.

“Cristian has a good vision, he’s physically strong now as well and he’s been on a good path.

“You have to be lucky and be at a club at the right time and have the right coach who will give you opportunities to play.”

Both Volpato and Icardi were surprised that the Wanderers weren’t keen to tie him down.

“It was probably a bit of a shock,” Volpato said.

“But I always dreamed of playing in Italy and I’m here now. That’s what matters.”

Icardi, 56, believes clubs in Australia doesn’t always “recognise talent”.

“Sometimes they don’t see it - that’s why so many boys move to Europe at a young age,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s best not to try and limit players. When you have quality youngsters you can just let them express themselves.”