After two days with the Under-17 National Team, FIGC Sub-Commissioner Alessandro Costacurta has returned to Italy. Together with Luigi Di Biagio, he attended the team’s second match at the European Championship against England where he appreciated the quality and intensity of the play along with the involvement of a large crowd.
Costacurta had positive comments on the four youth teams who have all qualified for the respective European Championships for the first time ever. It’s a positive sign for the future of the entire movement. “To achieve a full sweep of this type shows that Italian football is in good health. We remain hopeful and optimistic for the future even if seemed as though the results of the senior men’s team closed us off into a dark corner. I don’t think it’s really like that and these results show this.”
He then spoke about his experiences of coming through the youth teams. “It’s certainly a positive experience. Facing the strongest makes you develop. In an international setting, everything changes. The tempo and level of athleticism is far higher and to play in front of 10,000 like with the England game is a change that a persona at that age can really feel and it makes them grow.”
The Women’s teams made their contribution with the Under-17 National Team picking up a good draw against Spain in their tournament opener. “I say good luck to the girls and I think that this experience will be key for them like it is for the boys. Women’s football is growing rapidly. The senior team are close to qualifying for the World Cup and the results from the youth teams provide extra help in creating excitement.”
Costacurta’s final thoughts were on the tournament in England and his experiences of playing at that level. “I was struck by the organisation and the sharing of space with the pitches and the stadiums. St George’s Park is a marvellous structure. I feel a bit jealous seeing these guys, not just because of where they get to play but because of these experiences that will never leave them. I remember my youth internationals which are memories that still live with me.”