Signed by global giants Manchester United at the tender age of 17, Giuseppe Rossi had the world at his feet. His three-year spell in England may have been mostly spent in the reserves, but the chance to learn under Sir Alex Ferguson was a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many professionals are blessed with, and the Parma youth product’s footballing education could not have got off to a better start.
While Rossi didn’t make the grade at Old Trafford, it would have been easy to fall by the wayside like other fledgling rookies, but the starlet took his talents elsewhere and hit the headlines at Villarreal in the summer of 2007.
The move was a measure of the forward’s temperament and confidence in himself, and quite rightly so. Red Devils boss Ferguson thought very highly of the youngster and insisted on a buy-back clause before sanctioning any deal. Of course, a return to the north of England never materialised for a player whose style was far better suited on the continent.
The Yellow Submarine’s proved to be the perfect home for the versatile attacker. Rossi notched double figures in four consecutive seasons before his injury hell began in the autumn of 2011.
The former Newcastle loanee has now been blighted by setbacks for seven consecutive years, undergoing five operations and should be admired for his incredible resilience to keep bouncing back and making comebacks. On a personal level, the 30-year-old has every reason to reflect on what might have been.
Rossi has 30 international caps, which is quite impressive considering the amount of time he’s spent on the treatment table. This figure would have conceivably been at least double without regular spells on the sidelines. The little and large partnership of Rossi and Mario Balotelli had struck up a promising understanding and both men were sorely missed, for different reasons, in the most recent qualification phase for the showpiece in Russia this year.
Pepito is more than capable as a second striker, in a two, on the wings or even in a more withdrawn role linking with the midfield and would have been an asset if fit. Rossi offers something different to the likes of target men Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti, possessing guile, creativity, wonderful technique and would’ve undoubtedly made more of an impression than the selected frontmen who took part in the humiliating play-off loss against Sweden.
There still remains great uncertainty surrounding the national set-up and Rossi’s unique skillset would have ensured his place in the squad going forward, at the very least.
On the club scene, the diminutive Italian had no shortage of suitors during his time in Spain. The likes of Tottenham, heavyweights Barcelona and Juventus, made no secret of their interest in the player. Rossi could have had a medal haul to match Giorgio Chiellini or Andres Iniesta, but the quest goes on for the first taste of domestic glory.
It’s not too late for the gifted forward to spark a mini resurgence, though. Before being struck down in January 2014, Rossi netted 14 times from just 18 league appearances while at Fiorentina, and has often been vocal about enjoying his football in Serie A.
At no point has Rossi felt sorry for himself and this attitude coupled with his unquestionable ability saw a race emerge for his signature. Genoa ultimately beat off interest from Chievo, Alves and Las Palmas in December 2017 and the association is a win-win for both parties. The striker is a low cost option for a Rossoblu team in desperate need of firepower, netting a mere 16 goals all year.
Rossi will need time and patience to rediscover his form and the hope will be he catches the break his career so richly deserves. You couldn’t wish good luck upon a nicer guy.