Federico Andres Lorenzatti has had his share of bad luck, but at the age of 26, the Argentinian-born defensive midfielder is making up for lost time at the UEFA Regions' Cup in Veneto.
Now working in an office, Lorenzatti bowed to his love of the game when he left his family behind to seek a playing career in Italy at 17, but a series of injuries – a torn cruciate in one knee and then the other – put the brakes on his hopes of a breakthrough. "They were my worst two years, what with injuries and playing so few games and being a long way from your family; it felt like an eternity," he told UEFA.com. "But being Argentinian, I have that character of never giving up."
He is now playing successfully at amateur level in Veneto ("I've won three leagues in the past four years"), and his splendid long-range drive against Eastern Region in the Group A opener helped Veneto claim a 4-1 win, so they remain on course to reclaim the trophy they first won on home soil in 1999. "It was one of the most important goals I've scored in my career," he said. "Knowing me, you never know where the ball may go. All I thought about was hitting the target and it came off."
Scoring is not usually Lorenzatti's strength; he prefers to pull the strings in front of the defence, just like his idol. "I really like Andrea Pirlo," he explained. "There's no other player who has a head which goes so quickly – quicker than his legs and body because maybe he's not the fastest player around. He is always one second ahead with his head. It's not that I try to emulate him, but there are things you try to copy like his calmness on the field."
Whether he might one day become a professional like Pirlo remains a moot point, but for all of the disappointments he has faced, Lorenzatti understands the simple pleasure of playing. "I think the train passes only once in a lifetime, sometimes it never comes at all, but almost always it comes this once and I think I missed it," he said. "At amateur level, you enjoy yourself and you can play with less pressure. Football is a game in the end, and it is to be enjoyed."
That is very much the ethos of Europe's top amateur tournament, and Lorenzatti is pleased to have this opportunity to showcase his skills alongside the best of his peers. "It's a great stage to play on for players who did not make it to the very top," he said. "It's not something which is likely to come around again in our lives, so we want to win it."
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