Aussie ace Volpato thriving under Mourinho at Roma

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Simultaneously hasty post-mortems were conducted on how exactly Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers had let the starlet slip through their fingers into the grateful embrace of La Magica boss Jose Mourinho.

Seemingly the only one not getting carried away by his two-minute cameo at the tail end of the 3-0 loss to Serie A champion Inter Milan at a packed Stadio Olimpico was Volpato himself.

Whilst elated to make his top level entrance, the emerging attacking weapon was quick to point out that he’s only scratching at the edges of his potential, and now is not the time to be dancing jigs of delight or lauding accomplishments.

“I’ve just got to keep my head down,” the 18-year-old said.

“I’ve played two minutes but I can’t get a big head about that.

“I need to keep working hard and I feel there will definitely be (more) opportunities ahead.

“It was a great moment coming on - I think Jose Mourinho does have a bit of trust in me.

“I’ve been training a lot with the first team and to get my debut as well was incredible.”

Mourinho appears to have taken a keen interest in the development of the Sydneysider, whom he hand picked after four goals in 10 appearances for Roma’s Primavera side, largely because he exudes a confidence, finesse and adaptability beyond his tender years. 

There have been impromptu hugs from Jose, fatherly advice and now the prospect of an unfolding Serie A future shimmers for Volpato. 

Not to mention the international doors that might open for a youngster who has already been involved with the Azzurri at junior level and is firmly on Australia’s radar.

“Jose Mourinho is such a good coach but not only that, he’s a really good person,” Volpato said.

“Off the field he looks after me - it’s small things like asking how I am and asking after my family. I guess you could say he’s taken me under his wing a little bit.

“It gives you confidence and makes you feel more part of the group.

“If you’re good enough Jose will play you - I don’t think he cares if you’re a young boy or you’re old. If you’re good you’re good.

“He comes and watches every single one of our home games, like even the other day against Sampdoria he was there as well.

“Of course it’s a step up from Primavera - it’s a lot faster and if you take more than three touches you’ve got big defenders like (Gianluca) Mancini and stuff who will just take you out.

“You always have to be ready and quick with your thinking and your movement.

“(There’s a lot to build on now) Making my debut was wonderful but to make it against the champions was ‘wow’.

“Seeing players like Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, and all those people, it’s just crazy.

“As far as the first team are concerned whenever they need me I’ll be there.”

In addition to Mourinho,  Volpato also has Roma legend Francesco Totti in his corner, the retired maestro acting as his agent and another sage voice of advice to call on.

“After my debut he just told me to keep working hard and to stay humble,” said Volpato.

“For me, one of the biggest things was the atmosphere - it was crazy. All I could hear was the fans singing.”

Able to play as a winger, number 10 or a midfielder, a burning question now is whether Socceroos fans might get to see Volpato in the green and gold, potentially as early as the January-February World Cup window when they face Vietnam (home) and Oman (away).

Volpato is open to the prospect, with Arnold previously inviting him into an Olyroos camp, a move Roma decided not to sanction as it was outside official FIFA windows.

“I’m thinking more about trying to play with Roma’s first team than national team stuff,” he said.

“I’m just trying to get more Serie A minutes - but of course if the Socceroos call me maybe it’s a different conversation.

“It’s not an easy one in many ways: I was born and raised in Australia but my blood is Italian. It’s hard.”

Mourinho offered Volpato a slice of his own wisdom on the conundrum, with the young gun explaining: “He just told me to follow my heart and not let anybody persuade me either way.

“He said to do what I want to do because at the end of the day I am the one that plays.”

Volpato bears no ill tidings towards Sydney FC or Wanderers for failing to recognise his  promise.

“When I was Wanderers I wasn’t playing my position … they were using me more as a left winger or a striker,” he said.

“I don’t think I really had a proper chance to express myself.

“But I didn’t really listen to them because I knew I was going overseas anyway for a trial.

“I’ve put my head down and just worked and I guess the work speaks for itself.

“It’s a case of being resilient and seeing where it takes me.”


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