As one of the most exciting players in Italian football, the injury history of Nicolo Zaniolo has been a major blow for club, country, and player. Watching as his national side picked up the UEFA European Championships this summer would have been a double-edged sword; delight as an Italian; dismay as a player who not only would have played, but likely shone, in the Roberto Mancini led Azzurri.
However, the player has set about showing his incredible class and form so far in early season for AS Roma, returning to his previous best.
Despite being sent off on the opening day of the season, Zaniolo quickly showed his natural ability in the first half before his second yellow card seen him leave early during the 3-1 win over Fiorentina, his former club. His new coach,
Jose Mourinho, the Roma manager, is regarded as a hard working taskmaster of a manager. The Portuguese, though, was quick to praise the attitude of his new star player, saying after the 3-0 win against Trabzonspor: “I wanted to give him two days of rest, he said no. I asked him if he needed some days of vacation, obviously he won’t play on Sunday, and it wouldn’t have been a problem for me to give him two days off. He told me that he wanted to stay with the team and that means something.”
Can Nicolo Zaniolo get back to his absolute best?
After two horrendous ACL injuries, it can take time for a player to find anything like their previous form. However, the former Real Madrid and Chelsea coach seems like the perfect hire to help reignite the fire under the young Italian. The forward played a key role in their win over the Turkish giants on Thursday, scoring a well-worked goal to put the Giallorossi firmly in control of the tie.
The player broke into tears after his goal against the Turkish team, and spoke with raw emotion after the game to Sky Italia. There, he said: “After the goal, I thought about many things, about when I had to watch my teammates play, about the fans who have always encouraged me,
“Tonight, I’m very happy, it’s a new beginning, I thank everyone who was close to me, I have to thank the staff, the coach, the club and everyone.”
He was also asked about the comments that Mourinho made regarding staying with the team, and Zaniolo concurred by saying: I have already rested too much, I’m a Roma player and I’ll be alongside the team even if I can’t be in Salerno. It’s my work culture, I want to be close to the team and always give a positive contribution.”
He was also quick to praise his new coach, remarking that Mourinho was ideal for his needs, saying: From day one, he gave me an incredible boost, he’s a fantastic coach. He puts the winning mentality into our heads, to give our best in the difficult moments. When you turn around and see Mourinho on the bench, it charges you.”
Back in the Italy team and back amongst the goals, we might see the best of one of the most exciting players in the Italian game in the 2021-22 season.