Sydney-born football prodigy Cristian Volpato has revealed why he decided to reject a place on the Australian team for this month’s FIFA World Cup.
Coach Graham Arnold named his 26-man squad on Tuesday and Volpato’s name was not on the list.
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But unlike the others, Arnold revealed the reason for Volpato’s absence was all his own.
The 18-year-old has made waves for the Jose Mourinho-coached Italian powerhouse Roma, even making the Serie A Team of the Week.
However, he is eligible to play for both Australia and Italy on the international stage.
Volpato was born and raised in Australia but after he was let go by both Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers youth academys, the youngster found his home in Italy for Roma.
Volpato has played junior international level for Italy already, but under international rules can change his allegiance until the time he plays more than two senior appearances for a nation.
Arnold revealed on Tuesday he spoke to Volpato several times and gave him until 11pm on Monday night to think over whether he wanted to represent the Socceroos at the World Cup.
Having played just five matches in his senior career, Volpato also took to social media to reveal he thought it was too early to make a binding call on which nation he would represent.
“I’ve seen lots of speculation about decisions I have supposedly taken at international level: the truth is that I am still just at the start of my professional career and I am totally focused on continuing that process at Roma,” Volpato wrote on an Instagram Story.
“Making any sort of rushed decision about my international future at this early stage risks being extremely premature.
“There will be plenty of time for me to take the decision that feels right for me, but right now I know my focus needs to be on continuing to work hard each and every day in order to continue improving as a player.
“For now, it’s time to focus on the game against Sassuolo!”
Although a blow to Australia for the current World Cup, Arnold told Fox Sports News on Tuesday he still held out hope Volpato would pull on the green and gold in the future.
“Cristian is a great kid,” he said. “It’s an extremely difficult decision for the kid to make and he’s got people around him who have given him advice.
“I spoke to him late last night, he was the last phone call I was waiting for. I told him pretty much he was going to get selected in the 26-man squad and gave him a few hours to think about it. He came back and just doesn’t feel that at this moment in time as an 18-year-old he wants to make this big decision when there are two countries he can play for in Australia and Italy.
“He made that decision and he declined our opportunity to come and play for Australia at the World Cup. It doesn’t mean that he won’t do that in the future. He’s a young kid, he’s just starting out in his journey of football, he’s a beautiful kid and I understand the tough decision he had to make and we just move on.”