By Julia Court
It has been a dramatic summer for Jay Bothroyd. In May, the 21-year-old found himself surplus to requirements at English first division club Coventry City FC. This weekend he scored on his Serie A debut for AC Perugia, having already helped the Italian team book a place in the UEFA Cup with a strike against VfL Wolfsburg in the first leg of their UEFA Intertoto Cup final.
The pressure of being one of only two English exports to the continent this close season - the other being David Beckham - does not appear to have fazed the England Under-21 international. Nevertheless, Bothroyd admitted his opening league game against newly promoted AC Siena - a 2-2 home draw - was tougher than expected.
"In Italy the game is supposed to be far more about passing but to tell the truth it was a real battle against Siena," he told uefa.com. "But it was great to score on my league debut, especially in front of our own fans."
Perugia have drawn Scotland's Dundee FC in the first round of the UEFA Cup, but as Bothroyd looks forward to the first European campaign of his career, plus a trip back to Britain, he warned that it would be a mistake to underestimate the Scottish Premier League side.
"There were never going to be any easy games in a competition like the UEFA Cup," said Bothroyd. "Perugia are facing a tough tie against Dundee. I've not had much experience of playing against Scottish sides, apart from in friendlies, but one thing you can guarantee is that it will be a very physical game which isn't ideal for Perugia's style of play.
"I think it will be hard breaking Dundee down but if we can score an away goal early on and keep it tight then I'm confident we can finish the tie off back in Italy. As a seeded team we'll be favourites to go through to the next round but in football often the bigger clubs come unstuck so we can't afford to make any silly mistakes."
Bothroyd started out as a youth player at Arsenal FC but was snapped up by Coventry for €1.4m in June 2000. However, as the Sky Blues' fortunes deteriorated he became a more marginal figure and despite finishing as the club's top scorer last season with eleven goals, manager Gary McAllister handed him a free transfer.
The striker suddenly found himself looking for a new club, and was stunned to learn that Perugia wanted him. "The Perugia manager [Serse Cosmi] came over and saw me last season and I was invited to go over there and train with them," said Bothroyd. "Things went really well during my trial and they offered me a three-year contract. It's amazing how quickly things happened. Moving to Italy is incredible and it still hasn't sunk in.
"It didn't take very long to sign on the dotted line.
Given the choice between division one and Serie A, well, with all due respect there really is no choice. It's the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm just so happy to have the chance to prove myself, especially on the European stage."
Jay Bothroyd's website is at www.icons.com
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