Saturday November 17 2018
Who is Vincenzo Grifo?

Eyebrows were raised when Roberto Mancini opted to call-up the German-born midfielder, but Anthony Barbagallo feels he could be a valuable addition to the Italy squad.

With Roberto Mancini selecting a young 27-man squad for the Azzurri’s upcoming fixtures against Portugal and the USA, three new faces at Coverciano have attracted extensive interest from the Italian media and fans. The new inclusions of Sandro Tonali – dubbed the new Andrea Pirlo – and the versatile Sassuolo midfielder Stefano Sensi suggests that Mancini is prepared to inject fresh life and youth into a rebuilding Italian side. But most Calcio fans have barely heard of the other new selection: just who is Vincenzo Grifo?

Honestly, hardly any Azzurri supporter knew who Grifo was before being called up to the senior Italian national team for the first time. But if every Italian searches the name Vincenzo Grifo on the internet, they would soon discover with frustration that he has been an undiscovered talent for quite some time. Oozing class in every technical department, it’s ludicrous to think how Mancini’s recent predecessors had overlooked this talented midfielder. It’s a brave move from the former Manchester City boss, who is opting for players from outside the Italian peninsula and Serie A.

Representing Italy’s Under-20s in 2013 and now unexpectedly arriving back in Italy for the senior national team, Grifo was humbled to be presented with this rare opportunity. “I feel 100 per cent Italian. I am happy and ready to work,” Grifo stated at a Coverciano training session. If the 25-year-old makes his Azzurri debut this international break, there will be a sense of pride and excitement for the Italian diaspora.

Born in Germany to Italian immigrant parents, Grifo currently plies his trade in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim. From playing most his youth career with hometown side Pforzheim (a division five outfit) and bouncing from the third and second tiers of German football as a loanee in the years between 2012 and 2015 – Grifo’s journey has been a testament to his strong work ethic and humble nature.

Arriving at Freiburg ahead of the 2015-16 season in Germany’s second division, Grifo quickly showcased his midfield technicality and attacking qualities. Scoring 14 goals and mustering 11 assists in 31 appearances, the German-born Italian’s exceptional form helped the Black Forrest side win the Bundesliga 2 title and gain promotion to Germany’s top-flight. Grifo’s sublime performances continued in the following campaign as he played a substantial role in the newly-promoted side’s seven-place finish in the Bundesliga – securing a Europa League spot.

It was last year that Grifo’s heroics at Freiburg earned him a dream move to Borussia Monchengladbach. However, tainted by injuries saw the midfielder’s stint with the Borussians end short – presenting him the opportunity with a return to Hoffenheim. So far in this current season, the versatile playmaker has shown glimpses of the vintage Grifo – the impressive Freiburg version. Despite having less game time this season, every time the 25-year-old steps onto the pitch his skills never cease to amaze the Bundesliga viewers. His two assists and a single goal in the 4-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month captured the attention of Mancini – rightfully earning him a place in the Azzurri squad.

Just six years ago Grifo was playing his football in Germany’s fourth division, but now here he is, preparing to play alongside veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

If Grifo is part of Mancini’s plans to feature as an impact sub against Portugal in the UEFA Nations League or in the friendly with the USA, what can the Italian tifosi expect to see from the Hoffenheim midfielder? From crisp passing, producing trickery in the box, supplying numerous assists, a clinical penalty taker and a set-piece and free-kick specialist – everything from his passing to finishing is majestic.

The Pforzheim native can be deployed as a winger and also play as an attacking midfielder – sitting behind the forward line. Grifo’s classy and clean style of football will provide healthy competition for the likes of other playmakers such as Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne.  

What makes Grifo’s Azzurri call-up even more compelling is his Sicilian background – his father deriving from Naro, a comune (town) in the province of Agrigento. Whenever a Sicilian represents the Azzurri, it evokes the memories of when Toto Schillaci exploded at the 1990 World Cup with those famously intense goal celebrations. Can Grifo burst onto the international scene and emulate his Sicilian predecessor Schillaci? Maybe it’s time that La Nazionale can use some of that fiery Sicilian spirit to stimulate the attack once again.

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Have your say...
I see now based on your globalist belief you can print your feelings as long as you want here! If your a nationalist you get to print very few words! France has sold their soul as a country to globalists where proud italians won't throw away centuries of heritage and customs, we are 4 time world champions! We don't need to have our national team overrun or by foreign players to win like France, Being proud of who you are as a people does not make you a racist, the Roman lives on!!!!
on the 24th November, 2018 at 2:15am
If you're born in Italy, or are 1st generation Italian-(fill in the blank), you play for the National team. Anything more then 1st generation outside Italy, those players should stick with their present country. Also anyone who calls Balotelli, or Kean not italian enough are as ignorant as the night is dark.
on the 22nd November, 2018 at 2:58am
Anono, I do believe that Balotelli loves Italy, he's just his own worst enemy, so gifted yet so lazy and unprofessional with little drive. Those are the reasons for his exclusion. Ogbonna doesn't get called up because he isn't good enough. Yet both of them will cite or imply racism. Yes, their are racist fans, but the overwhelming majority can see it's the players flaws that are the real problem. Kean looks to have talent, character, and passion for the shirt, let's hope that he succeeds.
on the 21st November, 2018 at 11:47am
Anono, Pogba, Matuidi, Varane, Kante... were all born and raised in France. Interviews have shown them to be very patriotic towards their country. I would agree with you if most of the team were imported and had little respect for their host nation. As for Jorginho, he's said for a very long time that he wanted to play for the Azzurri, because of his ancestry and his love of Italy. Its best to view people on an individual level and not blanket terms and absolutes. There is always nuance.
on the 21st November, 2018 at 11:34am
I agree with PrimoCalcio's comment. If the Italian government grants the player nationality, then they are eligible and 'Italian enough' to play on the team.

If you're looking for a 500-year minimum fully traceable heritage team, you might be following the wrong tournament.
on the 21st November, 2018 at 6:46am
other than still struggling for goals Italy has looked very good in two games in a row now, Born from two italian parents enough said! Grifo looked good today as well did Politano right from his in induction, its too bad we could not see Tonali go today, the Quality of our play has improved dramatically, bernardeschi needs to step up for us
and insigne needs to show a lot more to be a starter for Italy, once we can finally lean
on the right players up front Italy will compete with the best aga
on the 21st November, 2018 at 12:57am
Jez Ostein
Value your point. I just don't think we need to convince players to become Italian like france have done.
I based my origianl point on Jorgihno and Eder aswell as Balotelli.
Love for the nation you are representing is key.
Jorgihno is in this team becuase Brazil dont want him Eder is even worse he was pictured with Brazil jersey before he was picked for Italy. Balotelli in my view has no love for Italy all he does is moan he didnt ask to be Italian, nor did we.
on the 20th November, 2018 at 11:29pm
Anono, respectfully I have to disagree. I couldn't care less about the color of ones skin, especially if they love the country of their birth, its culture, history, respecting both the law of the land and its people. These days, there are too many people, native & migrant, that want to tear down their society and bring it in line with their political agenda & religious beliefs. So yes, ties of blood & by birth are important, but equally so, at least to me, is patriotism.
on the 20th November, 2018 at 7:27pm
My God Anonymous, keep digging that hole. Do you not see the irony in your words? You bleat on about racism, and then more or less go on to attribute France's success to the ethnicity of their team -- not their talent, character, and the quality of their coaching or the youth set up in France. World Cup history shows us that it's neither an ethnic mix or homogeneity that's key to victory, just talent, hard work, intelligence, and some good fortune.
on the 20th November, 2018 at 7:22pm
I have a big problem with those who play for Italy just because they have lived in Italy a few years.If you were not born there or have no Italian blood then you have no right whatsoever and are only in the national team because you want international football.
on the 20th November, 2018 at 11:13am
I am assuming most on here were born in the UK and have Italian parent/parents/grandparents.So for those like that who support Italy but then say you have to be born in Italy to play for them is hypocrisy and ridiculous.
on the 20th November, 2018 at 11:09am
A clown?? Hahaha me. I asked a simple question, if Italy fields a team of Africans how is it Italy?
France didn't win the world cup African XL did. Absolutely nothing against Mbappe, Pogba or any of those top players but they are not French. So i ask the simple question the diffrence with international football and club football is...?
Go cry Racism somewhere else you absolute tool. You even acknowledge Zidane is Algerian. I may be a clown but your the only Joke on here.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 10:57pm
What some don't understand is this is international football.
Inter(national) football, based on nationality, not ethnicity.
An Italian citizen is an Italian citizen end of story regardless of anyone's views on race.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 9:45pm
I guess it's dependent on how the player in question feels. To me Grifo is '100% Italian' as he said himself, i myself feel exactly the same when it comes to this - there is no way i would even consider playing for England if i was a footballer! (born in England but both parents are Italian). I'm assuming most on this site would feel the same. To me the likes of Balotelli and Kean are also Italian - there are no levels to this. As Pozzo said 'if you can die for Italy you can play for Italy!'
on the 19th November, 2018 at 2:48pm
I cant believe Ano quoting Racism.Italians are not racist.We do have black players even in the U21.At the end of the day,if a black player is not playing well,then just like the others,does not deserve to be called up.I hate when they quote racism everytime.I honestly think Mario B is a great player but at the moment he is not playing and I believe still overweight so it is right that RM doesn't call him.He will be called when fit.By the way,Italy played Great.Grifo is Italian End of!
on the 19th November, 2018 at 2:17pm
Immobile sucks again, please leave him out. He has good movements on the ball but he can`t score, so not good enough.Unfortunately for him good club football does not translate into the national team. We played well against Portugal even if we ended up not scoring. Still think we need an old school number 9 upfront but there arent many around right now. I would`ve put Berardi upfront instead of Immobile.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 1:54pm
You are such a clown, a dullard for that matter if sporting wise a nation has grown to the point of becoming internationalized "by bringing stars from various corners of the earth" what a remark by a idiotic maggot of a person... Is there any player in the Italian National team ad good as POGBA, KANTE, MBAPPE, MENDY, VARANE, class players of African origin....yet this Racist stricken Italian populace will never allow BALLOTELLI( could have been their best striker of all time considering his scoring rate) before the cesare prandelli's led world cup campaign and his black skin.... Yet the current so called Italian born and bred are so abject as could be abysmal, woeful as could be terrible; IMMOBILE, CHIESA, INSIGNE, BELLOTI( terribly overrated average players) ....gosh!... They cant even kick the ball well, no talent, all of em learnt in school full of Tactical Jargon and stupidly violent racist environment....even during the era of Michel platini , France never achieved as much as when the Algerian wizardry;ZINEDINE ZIDANE, PATRICK VIERA, CLAUDE MAKELE, THURAM, HENRY DESAILLY etc...players that shine the Italian football landscape either you agree or not( black Africa players)....but the Old Italian bureautic system and racist background will never make them grow.....tragic
on the 19th November, 2018 at 6:21am
My man Vincenzo is Sicilian, end of story .....
on the 19th November, 2018 at 2:30am
I have a question, in your world whats the diffrence between international football and club football?
I have said on previous blogs that international football is is in such a mess that it wont be long before we see nationality deadline day which will work the same as transfer deadline day in club football but instead players can be whatever they choose to be.
People like you stop the world progressing take your accusation somewhere else
on the 19th November, 2018 at 12:56am
@Italian in canada
Well said.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 12:44am
There he is ladies and gents, the one who lowers the discussion and screams racism. We are discussing footballers and international football.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 12:42am
Are you alright? I don't think I have ever read so much twaddle. France as a nation is in the worst stat it has ever been in. If you can base all that rubbish you just wrote on those 23 men brought together from every corner of africa to represent France then your deluded. Jez Ostien hit the nail on the head.
on the 19th November, 2018 at 12:32am
“ who is Vincenzo Grifo” ? .......Who Cares.
on the 18th November, 2018 at 9:13pm
What on earth are you talking about anonymous? France is in a terrible state The economy, unemployment, trade deficit, low job creation, massive distrust in high ranking politicians, terrorist attacks, soaring crime rate, frequent rioting, no go zones: mostly for women, low equality of opportunity in secondary education, lack of funding for public hospitals, rape epidemic, massive consumption of anti depressants, the prison situation......

But at least they won the World Cup eh.
on the 18th November, 2018 at 8:35pm
So funny, there isn't an ounce of Neo-Nazism in any of these comments yet someone brings out this tired adage once again. Just because someone doesn't hold your views doesn't make them a Neo-Nazi, thank you.
on the 18th November, 2018 at 7:43pm
Projection 101 from the vapid Observer. The only shallow racist that I see here is you. International calcio is not a country club where you can pick and choose to play, willy nilly. Being able to do that would defeat the entire point of the International game.

So we are not allowed to comment on selection criteria because we do not train as pro footballers?? What kind of poppycock is that?? Stop using the r word with such reckless abandon and lay off the soy.
on the 18th November, 2018 at 6:25pm
There is an adage that says " window is made to allow inside to be ventilated and comfy" that goes to say ...this current Nazionale is the worst I have seen for 2decades, terribly horrific set of players void of know how to score bar Joginho ( who is not genuinely an Italian) .yet some idiocies hide under the veil of racism and asserts criteria of Nationality before someone plays for the National team... The French National ever since they opened their eye to the power of diversity they have progressed in all ramifications of living, Politics, Sport, Governance, Technology and what are view, still Italy sits there like an Old ruined utopia with populace lagging in ideas and foresight....even Tavecchio infected his nonsense racist ideology to the point where they couldn't even qualify for world cup....terrible set of species
on the 18th November, 2018 at 5:57pm
@Anono, I don't have a problem with those 3 playing for Italy. They all have links to Italy either though ancestry or birth, & perhaps most importantly, they have embraced Italian culture & grown to love the country. Where I would have a problem, is if a player didn't have any association with the country, & comes from a culture that doesn't want to assimilate, & would merely use the Italian shirt to raise their profile/earnings potential.
on the 18th November, 2018 at 5:53pm
@Paolo, being born & raised in a country does not automatically create a strong connection. For all we know, Grifo may have had a terrible time growing up in Germany, and that the only solace he found during his childhood was when he visited his grandparents back 'home'. That, and his parents would most likely have instilled a strong sense of Italian culture within him. As for, "which gave them an immense amount of success", maybe, or could it be that the player(s) worked their socks off to get where they are?
on the 18th November, 2018 at 5:33pm
BUT he's Italian. Grifo is more Italian than jorgihno, Balotelli and the many many more that now claim to be Italian. This is international football. Grifo can play wherever he needs to, but when Azzurri call he is Italian.
Its called National pride, something that those who claim to be something they are not have little off.
Why not Change your name to Paul and be English like Mario Balotelli family did to make him 'italian'.
I have a cat that spends time in a Dog shelter, is it a dog?
on the 18th November, 2018 at 4:47pm

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