Continental capers from Scandinavia to the Med
Among the tattoos Fabio Borini has inked on his body, there is ‘The Talking Cricket’. Like Jiminy was for Pinocchio in the Disney animation, he is supposed to represent the Italy international striker’s conscience.
Whether the imaginary green insect recommended that the right thing for Borini to do this summer was leave Roma and transfer to Liverpool in a deal worth £12m is unclear. But England, it seems, has almost always been his calling.
“I knew that sooner or later I would return,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Borini has played here. At 16, he took “a leap in the dark” and joined the Chelsea academy. “I don’t like doing things the easy way,” he reflected. “If you choose the comfiest solution, you never get to understand what’s your maximum.”
As expected, it was tough in the beginning. Borini, then just a teenager, missed home. He found adapting to a new culture and language difficult. With time, however, he grew fond of his new surroundings and a lot of that is thanks to his former landlord Keith.
“I owe a special recipe for the barbecue to him, a desert, I believe it’s his invention,” Borini explained. “You cut a banana in half, leaving on the skin, cover it in chocolate, wrap it in foil, then put on the grill. When done, you unwrap it and eat it. Now whenever I have people round for dinner it’s my specialty.”
So integrated did Borini become in the ways of the English that once back in Italy “I had great deal of difficulty getting used to left-hand drive again.”
It was while playing for Chelsea reserves that he first came into contact with Brendan Rodgers. He then followed his mentor to Swansea for a loan spell in spring 2011 and proved decisive in their promotion to the Premier League.
On his return to Chelsea, Borini found that Carlo Ancelotti had been fired [“he was a father to me”] and the club were only prepared to offer him a one-year contract.
He went back to Italy with Parma, who sent him on loan to Roma. Borini was an unexpected success. He struck seven times in eight games, celebrating each of them as though he had a knife between his teeth. “In Italy it means you’re a warrior; someone who never gives up.”
Not the most naturally gifted of players, Borini makes up for it with a Dirk Kuyt-like work ethic. He runs up and down, up and down hence the nickname Nascar.
Yet he’s a sniffer too and has that intangible quality of popping up in the right place at exactly the right time. For that reason, Ancelotti has compared him with Pippo Inzaghi.
His integration will be helped by the experience of playing in England before, but also the continuity of philosophy between Rodgers and Luis Enrique, Roma’s former coach, who had his team try to play pass-it-out-from-the-back possession based football.
Borini will wear the No 29 shirt. For him, it’s a lucky number. He was born on that day of the month. Scored his first goal for the Italy Under-21s on that day of the month. And made his full international debut on that day of the month too.
Liverpool play Norwich on September 29, 2012. If Borini hasn’t opened his account for the club by that time, maybe expect it to come there and then.
For an exclusive interview with Fabio Borini, pick up the September 2012 edition of FourFourTwo, out now.
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