Serie A’s leading goalscorers are both South American, one from Argentina, Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, and another born in Brazil, Sampdoria’s Eder.
The Italy national team has a lengthy history with so-called oriundi, foreign-born players called up to represent the Azzurri. Back in the 1960s, there was Jose Altafini, from Brazil, at AC Milan and a fine striker in Italy’s blue. Eder, called up earlier this year by national coach Antonio Conte, is the 43rd oriundo to be capped.
This may be the age of global mobility, but some flag-wavers resent any loosening of definitions of citizenship when it comes to international sport. Eder had a great grandparent from near Venice and has himself spent a decade living in Italy. But some senior figures thought his selection was wrong. “Those born outside Italy should not play for Italy,” Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini said.
Conte pointed out that high-class Italian-born strikers are not so plentiful. As for Mancini, he clearly admires Eder, a stout, skilful, poised finisher. Inter are reported to be considering a bid, of upwards of €12 million (Dh47.9m) for the player, who turns 29 next weekend.
Eder is currently enjoying the best form of his life, with eight goals from 10 matches for Samp, who meet Fiorentina tomorrow. But life has not always seemed so straightforward. “I have had some tough times, and I tried to learn from those,” he told Brazil’s Diario Catarinense. His journey across the Atlantic as a teenager did not launch him straight into the elite, and his list of employers is made up of middleweight clubs: Empoli, Brescia, Frosinone, Cesena. With Empoli he was Serie B’s top scorer in 2010, though that hardly made him a candidate to lead the forward line for one of the great national teams, neither for Brazil, whose managers have paid him little attention, nor for Italy, who now have.
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