SP Tre Fiori's veteran striker Sossio Aruta is as well known in Italy for his starring role in a reality television show as he is for his prolific, if well-travelled, career. At 39, however, he is looking forward to making his UEFA Champions League debut when the San Marinese champions take on Montenegrin side FK Rudar Pljevlja in the first qualifying round.
Aruta was a striker at AS Cervia when the Serie D side were followed by camera for 24 hours a day during the 2005/06 campaign. The show was called 'Campioni' – or Champions – aptly enough for Aruta, who led Tre Fiori to the domestic double last term. "I have only heard the UEFA Champions League anthem on TV," Aruta told UEFA.com. "To think I will be able to listen to that song on the pitch ahead of a game is a great feeling."
Aruta has fond memories of his time on screen. "It was important for me, especially to become better known in Italy," he recalled. "But most of all it was important because it gave me the chance to meet my wife Rossella – my princess – who, together with my kids Danielciro and Davide, is my greatest strength."
Aruta's potency on the pitch has long been evident, with a total of 21 goals – 14 in the league and seven in the Coppa Titano – this season, including the decisive strike in extra-time in both competitions.
"I have always lived for goals; it's my bread and butter," said the striker, nicknamed 'the Lion King'. "I have always believed that my goals are the result of the work I do during the week. My secret is a calm life with my family when I'm off the pitch. I have also been lucky enough to not have suffered serious injuries during my career.
"I scored decisive goals this season," he added. "But I want to share the credit with my team-mates. It would have been impossible without them. Now I hope to score in Europe as well, it would be a dream come true. It's already huge to play a game like this one. Scoring would be just amazing."
Aruta has his fingers crossed that Tre Fiori will not befall the same fate as they did last season when eliminated on penalties by UE Sant Julià in the second qualifying round. "Penalties are always a lottery," he said. "You can always miss a penalty, it happened to me in the San Marino play-offs against SC Faetano. If penalties are needed, I hope this time luck will be on Tre Fiori's side."
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