Italy's new star striker has never lived in the country and can’t speak the language
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Italy's new star striker has never lived or played in the country and cannot speak the language.
Ahead of the 2-1 defeat to England on Thursday, Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini complained about the lack of attacking options following an injury to Ciro Immobile.
But a new number nine has emerged for Italy, even if he's not even from there. Mateo Retegui was handed a first international call-up and notched on his debut against England.
He made it two in two with the opener in a 2-0 victory over Malta and looks like he will be a regular in squads going forward.
The 23-year-old was born in San Fernando, about 12 miles from Argentina's capital city Buenos Aires.
His father, Carlos, played hockey for Argentina at three Olympic games and Retegui went on to play for Argentina at Under 19 and Under 20 level.
But he qualifies to play for Italy through his maternal grandfather, Angelo Dimarco, who is from Sicily and relocated to Argentina.
CBS Sports say that Retegui doesn't speak any Italian but he's clearly had no problems linking up with his teammates, having become just the fourth player to score in his first two games for Italy.
Rategui plays for Boca Juniors but is currently plying his trade with Club Atletico Tigre, where he has scored 29 goals in 51 games in all competitions.
Mancini had to take notice of his red-hot form in front of goal and went against his previous view that only those born in Italy should play for the nation.
"But the world has changed," the former Manchester City manager said as per The Times.
"Every national team in Europe and in the world generally have players coming from abroad or originally from other nations.
"We have players who played with us in the youth teams but were eventually picked by their countries in the senior team."
Rategui appears to have attracted the interest of Premier League clubs, with both Brighton and Crystal Palace keeping tabs according to Corriere dello Sport.