How often do you see a 20-year old full back settle into one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world and then look like an experienced veteran who’s been at numerous European and world championships for his country? The answer is simple: Not very often.
Mattia De Sciglio is a full back who can play either right or left back as well as to fill in further up the pitch on the right hand side of midfield. The Rossoneri rate De Sciglio extremely highly. And that’s rightly so after seeing the youngster progress through the ranks at the club since 2002 when he was showing his worth for ‘Pulcini,’ which is the name used for the under-9 and under-10’s at the club. Pulcini translates to chicks.
In 2010, at just 17 years of age, he was a key player for the under-20 side that managed to win the Coppa Italia Primavera, which is a competition that is played each year by 42 teams across Italy. After the success of Milan’s performance, this being the first time the side have won the competition for 25 years, De Sciglio was called up to represent his country at under-19 level for the upcoming qualifiers at the under-19 UEFA European Championships where he appeared 8 times, scoring against the Faroe Islands in a 3-0 win. He then also went on to represent his country at under-20 and under-21 level, racking up an impressive 10 appearances. His big step up came in the 2011-12 season when he first showcased his talent to the nation across Italy by being selected for the first team squad where he also made his UEFA Champions League debut. No doubt there were other clubs in Europe keeping a watchful eye on the Rossoneri’s latest nurtured prodigy.
If the pressure for someone of just 18 years of age at the time when he made his debut in the Champions League wasn’t enough, during the following season he was handed the number 2 shirt, which soccer fans can easily associate with a certain Brazilian who wore that number for over five successful years, Cafu. Serie A viewers will know what this young full back had to offer before the Confederations Cup in Brazil as he appeared 25 times for Milan last season showing an immense level of maturity on the ball that is unheard of for someone his age. You’d normally expect a player of his experience in first team football to show some nerves but many of the Nerazzurri’s most passionate fans will admit, albeit not easily, that he was Milan’s biggest threat for large parts of the ‘Derby della Madonnia’ in the 1-1 draw in February this year where he went on bursts down both wings and made a certain Javier Zanetti look bewildered at times.
Cesare Prandelli called up De Sciglio to play Brazil in a friendly for Italy a month after the derby against Inter, which didn’t come as a shock to many Italians. The match ended 2-2, but again he showed what talent he possesses on the world stage. Prandelli liked what he saw in the speedy, versatile full back as he announced him in the Confederations Cup squad heading out to Brazil. Mattia De Sciglio’s ability would be severely put to the test in this warm-up competition for the World Cup in 2014 as he faced group stage matches against Mexico, Japan and Brazil. They gained six points losing to Brazil 4-2 in their final group game, but yet again the inexperienced, full back was arguably one of Italy’s most consistent players throughout the group stage. They beat Uruguay on penalties to place 3rd at the tournament. Luckily they won. Otherwise De Sciglio would have been slaughtered by the press back at home after missing his penalty.