New Jersey born football (soccer) player Giuseppe Rossi has catapulted
into the limelight at the Confederations Cup tournament being played in
South Africa. But the young star is not wearing the red, white, and
blue flag of the United States.
When the United States soccer (football) team met Italy in the first round of the Confederations Cup in South Africa, American-born players outscored Italians, 3-1. There were no own goals, the term used when a team puts the ball in its own net, but the Italians still took away a 3-1 victory in the end.
Son of Italian immigrants
That paradox was made possible by New Jersey native Giuseppe Rossi, the son of Italian immigrants, who has elected to wear the dark blue shirt of the Italian national team on the international level.
Rossi left the United States at an early age to begin training in the youth ranks of Italian Serie A team Parma. When he was still a youth, English giants Manchester United swept the player off to the United Kingdom, where he developed under the watchful gaze of manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Even as he spent most of his time with Manchester's reserves, Rossi's potential became apparent. Then American team national coach Bruce Arena had conversations with Rossi, who was then in his teens, about joining the US team leading up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but the player rebuffed the offer, intent on playing for Italy.
American prolific scorer
Unhappy with the lack of playing time in England, Rossi bounced around the European continent on loan with different teams before settling this year at Spanish team Villarreal, where he scored 12 goals in the competitive Spanish Liga, making the 22-year-old already the most prolific American scorer in the history of the league, considered to be among the world's best.
Rossi had a successful stint leading the Italian Olympic team at the Beijing Olympics, before joining the full team this summer. He scored his first international goal in a friendly match leading up to the Confederations Cup.
Prospects for World Cup in South Africa
Now, Rossi has his sights set on next year's World Cup in South Africa.
"Playing in the World Cup is always a dream for everybody, not just mine," he said. "The facilities are great here, the people are great. It's going to be a nice Confederations Cup here, and I'm sure it's going to be a great World Cup."
After defeating the United States, the Italians dropped their second Confederations Cup match to Egypt in a 1-0 upset. They will now take on Brazil in their final match as they look to make the semifinals.