In what is a Cinderella Story for the ages, a true testament at how sport, humanity and destiny can intertwine to weave a beautiful narrative, it gives the club great pleasure to announce that Davide Lorenzo, striker during FA Euro's 2017 USL League Two season, has signed with 2016 Premier League Champions, Leicester City.
A product of Juventus' youth academy, the Torino native signed with FA Euro in 2017 with the intent of coming to the States to pursue his professional football aspirations. After the conclusion of the season, Davide returned back home to Italy, to play in the Serie D. After a short tenure, Davide decided to hang up the boots and retire from the game, believing that he was too old to continue playing at a high level.
Along with his long-time girlfriend, Davide moved to Nice, France, and worked at Petite Maison, a high-end restaurant to make ends meet. It was there where he had a date with destiny, fortuitously meeting Leicester City Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha whose life tragically ended in late 2018. "Vichai met Davide and asked him whether he'd be interested in playing in Thailand or Belgium, where Leicester's sister clubs are based. Vichai soon arranged for the 24-year-old to have a trial at the club so coaches could assess his level of play. Lorenzo clearly impressed, and although off the mark in terms of match fitness, Leicester decided to offer him a chance to train with the Premier League side. He has since packed up his job as a waiter and plays full-time after the club offered him a short term deal." (Sportsbible)
Leicester City manager Claude Puel commented on the remarkable story and on Davide's prospects:
"It is an interesting story. He met Vichai in a restaurant and told him his dream to come to Leicester to show his quality. We know the chairman liked this spirit when a man has a dream and tries to give his best." Puel said via The Leicester Mercury. "He offered for him to come for a trial and I gave him a contract. Then we will see his future, but now he needs to get fit and we will see, perhaps put him out on loan or give him some game time. It is early because he hasn't trained for one year, but it is a good feeling and a good story of course."
In an interview on GianlucaDimarzio.com, Davide retells the personal conversation he had with Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, in a one in a million chance meeting. “When I told him I was youth product at Juventus, Vichai looked at me in a strange way,” he said. He asked me "What are you doing here then?" And so I told him my life, even before the appetizer arrived, I'm like that."
“I told about my difficulties. A year ago I did not know English, I learned it in New York where I did not make it to the professional ranks, but without that experience, I could never tell my story to the owner of Leicester. Now I speak four languages. Vichai asked me: "Would you like to play in Thailand? Or in Belgium?" I replied: "Look, I would go anywhere, but now I have to get in shape, I have to train." Vichai subsequently invited Lorenzo to Leicester and three days later he was on the training pitch at Belvoir Drive.
He has trained with Adrien Silva and Papy Mendy, been taken under the wing of Yohan Benalouane and given a signed shirt by Jamie Vardy, who can appreciate Davide's determination to make it as a professional from his own rags to riches story. Davide has even revealed the contents of his conversation with City boss, Claude Puel.
“He told me to continue in this way, that I'm doing well,” added Davide. “They are seeing my desire and my qualities, but now I have to get back into shape. I know that the contract was a consequence of the actions I have done inside and, above all, outside the field,” he said. "I refer to all the things I have experienced in the last years, during which I learned so much from my mistakes, now I just have to continue like this, training hard every day to get more emotions like that.” (Leicester Mercury).
"Davide and I recently had a conversation during the holiday break." expressed Executive Director Marco Balsamo. "He's laser focused and knows that his job is far from over. It was such a great surprise and I hope this story inspires all players to never give up on their dreams, because one never knows who is watching or who you'll meet. Life is pleasantly strange and it is moments like these that inspire us to continue doing what we love most. Putting myself in Davide's shoes, I know how important this means for him and he will make most of this opportunity. Davide deserves it and we wish him nothing but the best. We will stay close with him during this exciting time and see where this will take him."
FAEuro.com has recently caught up with Davide to discuss this amazing chapter in his life:
FAEuro.com: Describe the feeling of stepping on the pitch, sharing the field with the likes of Premier League Champions Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki, and Wes Morgan?
Davide: "Just seeing the players already felt like a dream, but at the end of the day, they're all just a fantastic collective who have quickly helped me integrate seamlessly. The first few days of training were difficult because I haven't touched a ball in more than a year. But once the coaching staff saw my determination to showcase my technical qualities, they were patient and allowed me to take the proper time needed to get back in shape."
FAEuro.com: What advice will you give to younger players who, like you, share a similar dream in pursuing professional football?
Davide: "If you truly believe in your qualities as a player, then you must concentrate and dedicate yourself entirely to the craft. You must live the life of a professional, even if you aren't one yet. Your craft isn't exclusive solely to the pitch. You have to work at it constantly outside of training and matches as well. You have to be strong mentally, adhere to a healthy diet and life style, and never disregard the importance of getting good rest."
FAEuro.com: Can you briefly explain your relationship with Club President Joe Balsamo and Executive Director Marco Balsamo?
Davide: "I met Joe during an exhibition match and he quickly signed me for the USL League Two side. He was one of the main reasons I decided to pursue professional soccer in the States, as he provided me every possible opportunity and never gave up on me. It's thanks to him I even received a scholarship offer for a D1 University in New York, which I refused as I was headstrong on pursuing my professional playing ambitions. He really looked out for me and was an amazing mentor. Marco is first and foremost, a really great friend of mine. I confided greatly with him as we speak frequently regarding both our professional and personal matters. I am happy to have had the opportunities to meet people like them as they believed in me when no one else did. It's a joy to be able to continue the relationship with them during this time and they will continue to be present in my life. They are doing an amazing job with FA Euro and I am happy to have been part of such an ambitious project that will continue to grow. The club is really something special."
FAEuro.com: How important is the principle of never giving up, to never abandon your dreams?
Davide: "I think the principle of determination is the most important quality one can possess. I hope to be a good example of that. To sign a professional contract, at my age, is no easy feat. I've always believed in my talent but was aware of my weaknesses and mistakes that I would make both on and off the field. I worked on minimizing those errors through repetition and was strong-willed at improving. If I was able to get a contract with Leicester, I think it was a mix of luck, but more importantly perseverance that helped me achieve this dream. I think this is what Vichai noticed in me when he gave me this unforgettable opportunity."
FAEuro.com: What is your goal now?
Davide: I can't rest on my laurels. I want to play as many minutes as possible this season in Europe, whether it's with Leicester or going off to another side on loan and proving my worth. My objectives remain the same, to go as far as I can. I want to pay off the faith that the few select people like Vichai and Joe have given me while thanking those who have refused and neglected me during this rollercoaster of a career of mine. It's thanks to them, the good and bad, that I can proudly say I've signed with one of the top clubs in the most elite league in the world, the Premier League.
All of us at FA Euro wish Davide the very best as he inches one step closer to achieving this dream of his. Forza Davide!