Sydney-born football prodigy Cristian Volpato has made his career intentions clear after turning down the Socceroos despite being offered a World Cup spot.
Coach Graham Arnold named his 26-man squad and among some big names Volpato’s name was not on the list.
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The 18-year-old caused a furore for Jose Mourinho-coached Italian powerhouse Roma, even making the Serie A Team of the Week.
But despite his Australian birth and playing junior football in Australia – where he was sacked by both Sydney FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers academy – Volpato seems to have his sights set on playing for Italy at senior international level.
Volpato has already played at junior international level for Italy, but international rules allow him to change his allegiances until he makes more than two senior appearances for a country.
Speaking of the roster of the 26-man squad, Arnold said he had given Volpato until 11pm Monday night, but the teenager had rejected Australia.
“It’s not my decision,” Arnold said.
“I spoke to Cristian three times yesterday. I spoke to him several times before that. I pretty much told him yesterday that he was in the 26-man roster.
“He wanted to leave and think about it. He wanted to speak to those around him who help guide his career and he came back last night and turned down the offer to play for Australia in the World Cup.
“That’s his decision in the end. I prefer to look at the young guys we have and the young Australian guys coming into the camp.
“Cristian feels at this point in his career that it is such a huge decision and right now he doesn’t want to make this huge decision, which is his right.”
Talk about Fox Sports NewsArnold said the door was not closed on Volpato for the future.
“Cristian is a great boy,” he said. “It is an extremely difficult decision for the child and he has people around him who have given him advice.
“I spoke to him late last night, he was the last call I was waiting for. I pretty much told him he was going to be selected in the 26-man roster and gave him a few hours to think about it. He came back and just doesn’t feel like he wants to make this big decision at the moment as an 18-year-old when there are two countries he can play for in Australia and Italy.
“He made that decision and declined our chance to play for Australia in the World Cup. That doesn’t mean he won’t in the future. He’s a young boy, he’s just started his football journey, he’s a beautiful boy and I understand the difficult decision he had to make and we just move on.”
The Socceroos roster was filled with surprises after goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, defender Trent Sainsbury and veteran striker Adam Taggart as well as Tom Rogic were all surprises, while youngsters such as Garang Kuol, Keanu Baccus, Cam Devlin, Riley McGree and Thomas Deng as well as cult hero Jason Cummings were all included.
Australian squad 2022 FIFA World Cup
goalkeepers: Matt Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Andrew Redmayne
Defenders: Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Fran Karacic, Nathaniel Atkinson, Thomas Deng, Bailey Wright, Joel King, Keanu Bacchus
Midfielders: Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy, Ajdin Hrustic, Riley McGree, Cameron Devlin
attackersJamie Maclaren, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Garang Kuol, Craig Goodwin, Mitchell Duke, Jason Cummings, Mat Leckie