How I fell in love with … / League of Nations /

Sometimes all it takes is an act to fall in love with a player. Here are three that made our little hearts beat faster during this series of Nations League matches: Italian Wilfried Gnonto, Ukrainian Mykhaylo Mudryk and Irishman Michael Obafemi.

Wilfried Gnonto (Italy)

The action that made us succumb
It only took Wilfried Gnonto five short minutes to put the boot at his feet. Bologna, Renato Dall’Ara Stadium, Saturday, June 4, 2022, Italy-Germany. The stage is set. It’s idyllic. It is therefore only three hundred seconds ago that Wilfried Gnonto stepped on a lawn with the jersey from National. In the heart of Emilia-Romagna, Gnonto replaced Matteo Politano and already wounded Thilo Kehrer for the first time, his vis-à-vis, before burying him once and for all in the 70s.e minute play.In the right side, the overflow of the 18-year-old kid is overwhelming. Kehrer quickly puts his arms down, Manuel Neuer ends up on his knees as he sees Gnonto’s cross served on the millimeter for Lorenzo Pellegrini. Italy open the scoring, Germany will equalize in steps to snatch a draw (1-1). Ten days later, for the second round largely won this time off National team (5-2) in Wolfsburg, Gnonto still manages to unlock his counter to save what is left of the credit for his selection. Perhaps a proof that this child is not just a shooting star.

why it’s so exciting
Simply because there are not many 18-year-old Italian children attacking 1.70 m tall who are capable of such a first place in a selection capable of winning the European Championships and then toppling in the face of Northern Macedonia . Because a talented kid who decided to leave Italy and Inter’s Primavera, not even 17, to get a pro contract in Zurich, Switzerland, testifies to Serie A’s deep malice by trusting his youngsters. In the end, Gnonto returns to the country like a prince: he has already accumulated almost 2000 minutes of play in two years with FC Zurich, scored 8 league goals in the last exercise, and his club even snatched the national crown. thirteen years after the last. The kind of early career you want to follow closely.

And where does he come from?
Wilfried Gnonto was born in Baveno, not far from Verbania, in Piedmont, a city bordering the sublime Lake Maggiore. It was here that her parents, Boris and Chantal, immigrated from the Ivory Coast a few years earlier. Like the track Gazzetta dello Sport, Wilfried hit his first balls at the local club before joining the Suno club, which was affiliated with Inter at the time. That’s how Wilfried ended up Nerazzurri, well helped by his parents forced to drive more than 100 kilometers round trip, as their offspring were still too young to live alone in the fashion capital. Wilfried comes from far away, but his destiny is to reach the very top.

Mykhaylo Mudryk (Ukraine)

The action that made us capsize
Scoring his first goal in his first match for the national team is marked by the biggest. That’s why Mykhaylo Mudryk wants to be one of the greatest. Last May 11, lined up in a friendly match against Borussia Mönchengladbach, for what is the first match in the Ukrainian selection after the Russian invasion, the virtuoso Shakhtar Donetsk scores on his first ball, from the 9th.e minute. In a special context where Ukraine are looking to prepare for their World Cup qualifier against Scotland, he finds the net at a sublime opening from Sydorchuk by hitting an early exit from the goalkeeper and continuing to control the right foot, then striking with the left. Slightly surprised, the 21-year-old player, who has matured a lot in recent weeks, just opens his arms before jumping up and clenching his fist. A party worthy of FIFA.

why it’s so exciting
Because Mudryk is not only the quasi-homonymous for Ballon d’Or 2018. The talented left wing has made a name for itself in only 23 matches with Shakhtar, to the point of being named the best player in the game. year 2021. The one nicknamed the Ukrainian Neymar, with his dribbling skills worthy of the Brazilian yoga bonito and his passing quality, also has the neat look of a future world number one, with medium length hair dyed in blonde tight with a headband. And although he only had his first selection with Ukraine during this war period, the boy born in 2001 did not miss the opportunity to assert himself as a reference on the left wing of Zbirna. Especially when it was necessary to take the reins of the Ukrainian attack after the failure against Wales, which deprived a bereaved nation of a qualification for the World Cup. Pyt, the young Mykhaylo Mudryk will defend his homeland differently and continue to encounter Putin on his social networks. “It does not look like the weather is good today” he laughed on May 9, when Russia used the pretext of capricious weather to justify that no planes parade during the national holiday. “I want all the audience I have on social media to listen to me so people know the truth, perceive real information instead of twisted propaganda” , he insisted in an interview for Shakhtar. A committed player on and off the field, that’s who Mykhaylo Mudryk is.

And where does he come from?
The young Mykhaylo Mudryk, who is based in Krasnohrad in the Kharkiv region, was trained from the age of 9 in Metalist Kharkiv, a big club in the region that knows how to persuade its geniuses, as it proved last year by hosting the talent from the former. Lyonnais Farès Bahlouli. In a Ukraine where clubs come and go, his training club disappeared in 2016 (before it re-emerged in 2021 under the name Metal Kharkiv). Like any child adequately gifted with his feet in eastern Ukraine, he joined Shakhtar Donetsk at the age of 15, and then exiled to Kharkiv after the Donbass War. After two consecutive loans to Arsenal Kyiv and Desna Chirnihiv, the prodigy can finally taste the joys of putting on Shakhtar’s famous orange tunic. Strengthened by the arrival on the bench by Roberto De Zerbi, who has made it his mission to promote the man he considers to be “one of the best young people in Europe” he eliminated on his own AS Monaco in the Champions League play-offs by provoking Rúben Aguilar’s own goal, and then changed dimension on 3 November 2021 when he made Real Madrid right-back Dani dizzy.Carvajal. “Mudryk is our Vinícius Juniorsaid Shakhtar Sports Director Darijo Srna before the meeting. There are few players with such qualities. We work with him day and night and he has changed a lot lately. » Despite Madrid’s victory that night (2-1), Mykhaylo came out to cheers from the Bernabéu connoisseur audience. A few weeks later, as he seeks to leave his country at war despite his military obligations, he was able to play the Champions League again, this time under Bayer Leverkusen’s tunic, which, not insensitive to the charm of this beautiful blonde, is approx. to take off forever his career.

Michael Obafemi (Ireland)

The action that made us melt
The advantage of thrill players is that they can shine multiple times in the same encounter. This Saturday, Michael Obafemi did not hesitate to seduce his world during the neighboring party between his home country, Ireland and Scotland, at Aviva Stadium. Aesthetics were able to fall under the spell of the boy of 28e minute as he launched a number 35 yards from the opposite goal, a hook behind his support leg chained to eliminate his vis-à-vis and a wonderful air opening against his attacking partner Troy Parrott, author of the 2-0 goal for it Boys in green. That’s all ? No, Obafemi gave the tire after returning from the locker room to celebrate his first term in office in the best possible way. How ? Goes back a fight in midfield to regain the ball and unleash an overpowered praline, leaving poor Craig Gordon on his butt. ONE master class stopped five minutes later due to an ugly injury. Not a problem, the charm had already worked anyway.

why it’s so exciting
Already because it is always pleasant to discover a future dragster in the Premier League before it finally settles there. Beware, Obafemi, 22 next month, was able to bite into a couple of encounters with the English elite when the young striker made his reach in Southampton (2016-2021). A tasteless first appearance against Tottenham in 2018, an assist against Manchester United at the end of the same year and a couple of excellent peasants, as against Chelsea or especially against these same. red devils in July 2020, when he had planted three minutes after coming into play to offer the point with a draw to Saints. The typical beginning of the crack that could have been lost after a white season, marked by physical defects. Yes, but the boy has a good head and his exile to Swansea in the Championship was beneficial for him with a scary last quarter (11 goals, 3 assists). Another thing: Obafemi is a big fan of Thierry Henry and Ian Wright, a good supporter of Arsenal. It promises.

And where does he come from?
Fate teases sometimes, Obafemi led him directly to Ireland. On July 6, 2000, little Michael decided to come into the world earlier than expected while his mother was visiting his sister in Dublin, where he spent the first days of his life. He, on the other hand, spent his childhood on the other side of the sea, in England and more specifically in London. There, the striker searched the English clubs, from Chelsea to Watford, before spending a year without football to concentrate on studies, a wish of his mother. Still, the guy was quick to return to football, putting his bags in Leyton Orient and then Southampton. England … then Wales, with its departure to Swansea: “The first day I drove to the training ground, there were sheep at the roadside. I understood at that moment that I was really in Wales ” . Obafemi says he had a click at the start of 2022, and his performances made him return to the Irish selection almost four years after celebrating his first international against Denmark in November 2018. Last month, coach Stephen came Kenny to see him write two assists against Bournemouth at Liberty Stadium, with a nice gift: “He bought me the new Ireland jersey with my name on the back. I felt like he wanted me to be with them. . He gave it back to her while he waited for the sequel.

By Anna Carreau, Andrea Chazy and Clément Gavard

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