Now the undisputed number one at Atalanta these days, Pierluigi Gollini’s rise to a starting role wasn’t an easy one.
Leaving Italy early to join Manchester United’s youth ranks, the goalkeeper stayed two years at Old Trafford before making a name for himself at Hellas Verona.
After that, Aston Villa came knocking, paying £4.5m for his services, only to stay there a season before being shipped out on loan back to Italy to Atalanta.
It’s not like Gollini was bad at Villa Park either, conceding just 17 goals in 20 appearances, but the match just wasn’t meant to be, as the player explained in an interview with La Repubblica on Friday.
He said: “I much prefer Italy. A return to England? I don’t think so. Is it everyone’s dream? I never said it was mind. Maybe they dream of it because they haven’t been there. In Manchester, my English teacher told me that I was the foreigner who had integrated the best, but it’s not a world for me. There is no group there. You go on the pitch like you go to the office. I noticed it especially at Aston Villa.”
A sly dig from the goalkeeper there, who clearly didn’t enjoy his time at Villa, and appears delighted with his current situation, getting to play Champions League football with Atalanta these days.
Gollini also picked up his first cap with Italy very recently, coming off the bench against Bosnia for the final two minutes of the gap on November 15th.