Sydney-born football prodigy Cristian Volpato has made his career intentions clear after he snubbed the Socceroos despite being offered a spot for the World Cup.
Coach Graham Arnold named his 26-man squad and among some big name snubs, Volpato’s name was not on the list.
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The 18-year-old has made waves for the Jose Mourinho-coached Italian powerhouse Roma, even making the Serie A Team of the Week.
But despite being born in Australia and playing junior football in Australia — where he was let go by both Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers youth academys — Volpato appears to have his sights on playing for Italy at senior international level.
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.
Speaking about the selection of the 26-man squad, Arnold said he gave Volpato until 11pm on Monday night but the teenager had turned Australia down.
“It’s not my decision,” Arnold said.
“I spoke to Cristian yesterday three times. Before that I spoke to him on numerous occasions. I pretty much told him yesterday that he was in the 26-man squad.
“He wanted to go away and think about it. Wanted to speak to the people around him that help guide his career and he came back last night and declined the offer to come and play for Australia at the World Cup.
“That’s his decision at the end of the day. I’d rather look at the young boys we’ve got in and the young Australian boys who will come into the camp.
“Cristian feels at this time of his career it’s such a massive decision and at this moment of time he doesn’t want to make this massive decision which is all his right.”
Speaking on Fox Sports News, Arnold said the door wasn’t closed on Volpato for 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.”
The Socceroos squad was filled with surprises after goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, defender Trent Sainsbury and veteran striker Adam Taggart as well as Tom Rogic were all surprises, while youngsters such as Garang Kuol, Keanu Baccus, Cam Devlin, Riley McGree and Thomas Deng as well as cult hero Jason Cummings were all included.
Australian 2022 FIFA World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Andrew Redmayne
Defenders: Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Fran Karacic, Nathaniel Atkinson, Thomas Deng, Bailey Wright, Joel King, Keanu Bacchus
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy, Ajdin Hrustic, Riley McGree, Cameron Devlin
Attackers: Jamie Maclaren, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Garang Kuol, Craig Goodwin, Mitchell Duke, Jason Cummings, Mat Leckie