Living the dream: Rising star Zaniolo, Roma and Italy’s big hope

“Zaniolo is the talent of the future.”

– ‘Best yet to come’ –

Zaniolo’s father Igor was also a professional footballer playing as a forward for lower league sides in Italy.

Zaniolo Jr. came through the Fiorentina youth system but was released by the club in 2016, joining then-Serie B side Virtus Entella where he made his professional debut in March 2017.

He was signed by Inter Milan the following July, but did not play any competitive games for the first team before moving to the capital club.

Zaniolo says his father’s experience and advice has helped him.

“We talk three or four times a day. He told me that where I am now is just the beginning, and that I don’t need to get a big head because you can fall down just as fast as you rise,” he said.

“(Roberto) Mancini told me to stay calm, because if I was called up to the senior squad then it was for good reason.

“I’m not thinking about whether I get called up to the Euros. I think only about playing and enjoying myself. The best is yet to come.”

Zaniolo has already attracted attention from big clubs including Juventus, Chelsea and Real Madrid, but Roma look set to hold on to the teenage star.

All could depend if he proves decisive over two legs against Porto, where a quarter-final berth could be worth 15 million euros ($17 million) to his club.

Roma director of football Monchi said the important thing was keeping the youngster’s feet on the ground.

The club are currently sixth in Serie A, just one point off the Champions League places.

“Zaniolo helps the team a lot, but he’s not the only one,” said the Spaniard. “He is still growing and needs to be left in peace, because we are talking about him too much.”

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