Gianluigi Donnarumma's father admits that when he heard of his Milan debut at 16, 'he thought it was a joke'.
On the eve of his 18th birthday, his father looked back on his son's early life and career so far.
"What was he like as a child? I do not remember much,” Alfonso told La Stampa. “My children have grown rapidly, especially in height.
"On his first day of school he did not want to leave his mother and wept. He had always been fine, but he felt a longing for my wife.
"We put him in a school run by nuns with his sister. He escaped, went to Nunzia and said: ‘Call Mamma’
"At 4 and a half years old he started playing football on the sand. He saw his brother, and wouldn’t stop from then on.
"His first tournament led to another disaster, but looking back I still laugh.
"It was the Christmas holidays, and near to the pitch fireworks in were going off and Gianluigi, terrified, ran away from the goal.
"I went out after him and convinced him to return: ‘how are you going to make a save if you are not there?’
"Uncle Enrico Alfano, who is sadly no longer with us, did not have the luck to see play Antonio nor Gigio play.
"The Coach at Napoli’s football school, Ernesto Ferrara, got angry with me. He said ‘Alfonso, you do not know how good your son is, he’s predestined.
"He chose Milan to be together with his brother Antonio, who was playing in the youth sector and it was his favorite team as a child.
"I've always rooted for Milan, I painted my first car in red and black, but my wife instead supports Napoli.
"Then one October Saturday evening came the most unexpected phone call.
"A year and four months ago Gigio called us: 'Dad, Mum, tomorrow's game, will you come and watch me?' I thought it was a joke.
"At 16, in Serie A against Sassuolo. We did not understand anything, just that they gave us the tickets to go. "
"I was happy and had tears in my eyes. It was an unforgettable moment."
Has Gigio changed since his senior debut for Milan?
"Absolutely not, he has remained the same."
What does Alfonso wish for his son when he turns 18?
"To enjoy this beautiful age, to obtain the goals he has set for himself, and good health.
"We try to stay close to him as possible. We come often to Milan, so he does not feel alone. He will also be an adult, but for us he is still a child.
"When I think about our two sons playing football in the living room and it really is the worst moment. We realize that they are grown up now and do not live with us anymore."
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