Thursday September 6 2012
Candreva overturns capital crime

Initially jeered for being a Roma fan, Antonio Candreva now has the Lazio faithful on his side. Antonio Labbate writes.

“My mother came to watch the friendly between Lazio and Chelsea,” recalls Fabio Liverani. “After 10 minutes, she had to put her ear plugs in…” It wasn’t the noise that Mrs Liverani was trying to drown out, it was the insults being hurled at her son by his own fans. Liverani’s crime? Joining Lazio but being a supporter of city rivals Roma.

It’s a situation which Antonio Candreva has found himself in. Coming on as an 88th minute substitute for Hernanes in the February 2-0 win over Milan, he was welcomed by the Stadio Olimpico faithful with a round of heartfelt jeers. The reaction to his arrival was so extreme that he was forced to deny his Giallorossi leanings in a Press conference a week later.

“I have nothing to hide,” he declared. “I’m not a Roma fan, I left home at the age of 14 and I have never been in the Curva Sud. I’m just thinking about playing for Lazio now and honouring this shirt that I have been given.”

Few were convinced at the time. He may have been wearing a Biancocelesti jersey, but, for many Laziali, his heart was tainted with Giallorosso. However, something changed on April 7 with his first goal for the club against Napoli. In a game which the outfit used to remember legend Giorgio Chinaglia following his death, Antonio netted under the Curva Nord which subsequently exploded with joy.

Ending the campaign with three goals in 15 games, the Italian international was signed on a co-ownership basis by Lazio, with Udinese, at a cost of €1.7m. You can criticise the club’s lack of market moves as much as you want, but that piece of business by Claudio Lotito is verging on the inspired.

While Lazio huffed and puffed in pre-season, Candreva impressed after being used in a variety of midfield roles by Vladimir Petkovic. Blessed with speed and technique, the 25-year-old scored the goal of Week 2 with a rocket in the 3-0 win over Palermo at the Olimpico. His form has been so good that there was an argument to suggest that Candreva should have been included in the latest Italy squad.

In reality, the Roman has been promising to deliver consistent performances since he was catapulted into the spotlight by Marcello Lippi in 2009. While on loan at Livorno, he was given two Italian caps. A few months later and he found himself at Juventus. But the temporary move to Turin coincided with a steady decline in form and he subsequently failed to impress during later spells at Parma and then Cesena.

“I’ve played for a lot of clubs and I wasn’t usually given the possibility to settle and stay at the same team for a significant amount of time,” Candreva noted. “It is not easy when you are always sent out on loan. I hope that Lazio believe in me, but I have to give my best in order for that to happen.”

What Lazio have been able to offer him is the opportunity to play regularly in a pretty decent side. His previous four clubs all had their problems while he was there and it didn’t allow Candreva to make the mistakes that youngsters will inevitably indulge in. It’s different at Lazio, especially as their thrifty transfer policy means their side hasn’t been revolutionised over the summer. They’ve pretty much been able to start where they, and the player himself, left off – even under a new tactician.

“I told Candreva that he needed the strength to be seen and admired for what he did on the pitch for Lazio,” Liverani, who eventually won over the fans with some classy midfield displays, added. “It’s hard when somebody accepts such a situation where you have to take on a whole set of fans, but I was convinced that I was in the right place. You can’t relay that with words, you have to demonstrate that with your skills on the pitch.”

That is clearly something that Candreva, six months on, has been able to do.

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Have your say...
Candreva is a player that deserves his chance both in a title challenging side and for the national team. The chance he's been given in SS Lazio's side this term can only help them go all the way
on the 25th October, 2012 at 6:22pm
He's a good player, but he's no Totti. FORZA ROMA!
on the 9th September, 2012 at 7:18pm
I believe that Candreva deserves to be called again to the Azzurri squad. His speed and accurate long shots will help the Azzurri a lot in the upcoming 2014 World cup qualifiers.
on the 8th September, 2012 at 9:40pm
It's one thing to celebrate, it's a whole different thing to hold up the game for ten minutes while you prance around....take your shirt off, and run into the crowd. @Fuad: This stuff is abd for Seria A, there has to be a level of professionalism. It wasn't the game winner nor a meaningful game on the grand scale, so why should we allow this? And @ the Roma hater, im not condoning the actions of Totti or DDR, but just saying, you don't see this type of thing happen.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 3:12pm
Laziale?? Pathetic celebration on Sunday. This guy should not be allowed to play in Serie A.

why?? so its better to jog back to the half way line
on the 7th September, 2012 at 3:07pm
Viktor never heard of him? Not a football fan then? everyone knows everyone in football.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 3:06pm
I don't understand why it is such a big deal to celebrate when you just scored a fantastic goal. It is because we dont want to allow such players to play in Serie A, that, now italian football has lost its positions in Europe.
on the 7th September, 2012 at 6:26am
It is obvious that Candreva is a great footballer, but as I see it he has to show great form over a longer period. If he plays regularly like he does in Lazio, then he has to be watched by Prandelli. As I see it he will compete against players like Nocerino and Marchisio for a place in the national team, and the competetion just to be a part of the midfield for Italy is extremely hard. Especially now when Prandelli has opened his eyes for youngsters like Verratti and Poli.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 11:02pm
Couldn't agree more! Hands down one of the most under-rated players in Italy and Parandelli should re-consider him ASAP.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 7:04pm
Best Lazio player so far alongside with Klose and Marchetti, Candreva earned my respect, Forza Lazio
on the 6th September, 2012 at 6:13pm

"Great player, should be involved into the national team would offer more than Montolivo. Forza Candreva forza Lazio!!"

Ehh... Not really. Never heard of the kid. Forza Monty
on the 6th September, 2012 at 6:00pm
Not a Roma because he has no respect?? Are you for real? lets not forget how disgusting Totti has been over the years with kicking people and spitting at them...ohhh..and De Rossi's blatant elbow for the Azzurri. Roma fans need to see their players model some respect....
on the 6th September, 2012 at 5:59pm
Pathetic celebration on Sunday. This guy should not be allowed to play in Serie A.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 3:38pm
Agree with the comments. I have to comment on that disgusting over the top celebration he had though after that nice goal. Stuff like that is bad for the league, the guy ran around for ten whole minutes.

No way he's a Roma fan as he has no respect.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 3:08pm
He has been an excellent player since his Livorno days. Consistency hasn't been on his side before but hopefully he can put in some great seasons for Lazio and make it to Brazil 2014. He is a versatile and technically-gifted player and hopefully he can be an asset to Lazio and Italy's midfield.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 2:02pm
I think it is incredibly sad that Candreva had to go before the media to distance himself from the speculation (being a Roma fan). He should not need to prove to a bunch of grown men (fans) who he does or doesn't support. I follow Lazio and the guy fights hard for the shirt so regardless of his allegiances, Lazio fans shouldbe grateful for his commitment. If anything it makes him all the more impressive. I saw what the goal against Palermo meant to him and was good to see the Curva celebrate it.
on the 6th September, 2012 at 11:59am
Great player, should be involved into the national team would offer more than Montolivo. Forza Candreva forza Lazio!!
on the 6th September, 2012 at 11:13am

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