With a bright smile on his face, Michael Kayode beamed after Italy claimed the UEFA U19 Championship for the first time since 2003.
And why should he not? He just scored the goal that brought glory to Alberto Bollini’s side 0-1 against the Portugal U19 team.
The Fiorentina prospect leapt over two Portuguese players to power home a thumping header from Luis Hasa’s devilish cross into the penalty area. It was just far too much for Portugal keeper Goncalo Ribeiro to handle.
But it was not only that. The powerful wide man also turned in a superb defensive performance to thwart whatever threat Portugal posed in the second half – and he was deservedly named as player of the match.
AN INCREDIBLE FEELING
“It’s an incredible moment,” Kayode told AIPS.
“I worked hard with my coach and team every day for that moment. The hard work started last September and I can’t believe it came like that.
“It was a fantastic moment for me, my family and my teammates. I think I had a good performance throughout the tournament. That came after I worked very hard and it was for everyone. That feeling is incredible.”
Michael Kayode, born in Borgomanero (Piemonte) 19 years ago from Nigerian parents (and passport), scored 7 goals last season for Fiorentina Under 20 team. Playing as a forward to start in the National Stadium decider, Kayode ended up finishing the game as a defender as Italy held onto the trophy with their dear life.
In fact, the forward-turned-defensive outlet revelled in that role given to him by his manager. I role he may soon take in Serie A, given the appreciation Fiorentina’s coach Italiano has shown for Michael.
After Italy’s win over Spain, Bollini heaped praise on the player, saying: “Kayode is fantastic and can read the match. His performance may have surprised you but, for me, it’s no surprise. I know him very well and what he can do.”
And the 19-year-old – who was seen kissing the trophy before his captain Giacomo Faticanti lifted it – starred once again when carrying out the same job.
“Spain and Portugal were fantastic teams and have a lot of good players. But this team is a fantastic group,” he explained. “But it is simple, the coach asked me to play as a right wing and I try to do that more.
“Six or seven years ago I started as a right back but now I am happy wherever I am picked to play.”
Credit: AIPS Media