Primavera star Luca Pellegrini called up to Roma senior squad for the first time (Francesco Pietrella) Right footed, left footed, passing it quickly. Luca and Bruno Conti are out on the pitch, playing the ball between them. The former is a fine talent from Tor Tre Teste. He can play as trequartista or on the wing. He’s scored 30 goals and is yet to undergo his trial with Roma. “You’re good,” Bruno compliments him. Luca is on cloud nine. Then he goes out onto the pitch, and he only needs to take on a couple of players with his dribbling to convince everyone of his talent. Luca grew up in the Roma youth system and has now reached Serie A for the first time, selected by Spalletti for Roma-Bologna. He was only born in 1999!

He was in Vienna for the game against Austria Wien as well, called up at the last minute as the result of an injury to Fazio. He should have been named on the bench, but the former Sevilla defender managed to recover and he watched the game from the stands. It was a shame, but a great experience for him nonetheless.

It’s worth telling his story, and it began with his touchline knockabout with Bruno Conti. Now, Pellegrini is one of the stars of the Primavera, a full back who can press forward like few others, with 5 league appearances and a Supercoppa victory (as a starter) to his name already this season. He is the future of Roma, plain and simple. He was already playing underage last season, and thanks to his agent Mino Raiola the club tied him down with a contract until 2018.

He’s no ordinary person. He studies accounting, and not bad at speaking both English and Spanish. He dreams of playing alongside his friend Donnarumma, possibly wearing the number 3 of his idol Maldini (even if his playing style is more like Bale).

He started off as a swimmer, winning a few meets. Then he discovered the ball. He started with Cinecittà Bettini, then Tor Tre Teste with coach Mastropietro, then finally he was given a trial by Roma. He was signed on 7th April, his father’s birthday (who was formerly on the books of Napoli’s Primavera). Who discovered him? Bruno Conti, of course, but so did Roberto Muzzi, who told him “I’ll make you into the best full back in Italy.”

Muzzi saw the potential in him becoming a full back when he watched Pellegrini during a tournament in which he played deeper than usual. They were missing a lot of players, so he played left back instead. At the time, he wasn’t to know that his team-mate’s injury was going to change his career. It was ingenious intuition from Muzzi. He achieved many victories over the years, including 3 scudetti (Giovanissimi and Allievi Nazionali under Coppitelli, then the Primavera with De Rossi) and competing for a place in the national team. He is the only player, together with Mirko Antonucci, to have won 3 consecutive youth team finals with the same team. A record.

He is still grateful to Muzzi, keeping a photo of him by his bedside. His best qualities are his personality and character, together with humility and respect, taught to him by father Mauro and mother Monica. He is keeping his feet on the ground, but the transfer talk is already starting. The first club to make a move was Reading, who came forward with their sporting director armed with statistics and videos. Then more teams came forward: AZ Alkmaar, Monaco, Manchester City, PSV, Liverpool.

Roma looked to protect him, and made it clear to him that they are counting on him for the future. He signed a three-year contract, and the club avoided another incident like Scamacca. And to think that Pellegrini could even have left at the age of 14, when Juventus and Fiorentina both cast their eyes over him. But his handshake with Conti put a stop to it all. Isn’t football strange? It all started with a kickabout and a change of position. Fortuitous, but decisive. Today his story goes on, and it’s going well, as Serie A calls.


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