Napoli prodigy Lorenzo Insigne reveals what it’s like to play for your hometown club. “It’s different to playing football in any other town. Football saved me.”
The pint-sized forward turned 21 last month and has already become a fan favourite at the Stadio San Paolo.
“I am quite shy,” he told the Corriere del Mezzogiorno newspaper. “When I don’t know people, I tend to push them away. I understand the fans are passionate and want to be close to you, so it’ll take me a while to get used to it.
“My city is always the same. I’m glad to note that, as playing football here is different to in any other town. This is part of the joy.
“I made so many sacrifices to get here and become a professional player, as right from childhood my only objective was to play football. My family helped this happen and I will always be grateful.
“I gave up on fun, staying with friends and even going to school. It’s not as if I particularly enjoyed school anyway, but at 6am I’d go to the market to sell clothes. Otherwise, how was I going to buy my boots and shinpads?
“It wasn’t easy to keep this dream alive, because in the Frattamaggiore area where I was born, there were many... distractions. It’s a difficult place to grow up.
“If you’re hanging around the streets and don’t have much money, you can get sucked into doing things that aren’t right. My family always looked after me and football set my path. Football saved me.”
Ex-Pescara talent Insigne has the characteristics of Napoli legends like Diego Armando Maradona and Gianfranco Zola, in that he stands only 1.63m tall. That's shorter than those two stars and Sebastian Giovinco.
“I have often been told I’m too short to play football! But I’m hard-headed.”