Lorenzo Dolcetti is making quite an impression in Chichester, and beyond now the 21-year-old Italian has been selected to represent England at an international level.
He has featured in 12 games for Bognor this season, picking up a Rocks man of the match award on one occasion and is duel signed with Miles Rutherford's Chichester City. Dolcetti has scored twice in his four games so far for City, the latest one a spectacular 20 yard direct free kick against Broadbridge Heath.
He was born in Cesena but grew up in Pisa, although the family moved around because of football. Football is in his blood and it's a pretty good gene pool at that.
His father Aldo Dolcetti is an ex-Serie A player, club manager and currently assistant coach to Max Allegri at Juventus. Dolcetti senior has clearly had an influence on his son's footballing career.
“It was fine,” says Dolcetti of having a high level coach as a father and laughs. “Whichever club he was at, I was in the development team.” But, as he explains, it was not all easy. “I had to fight off other players saying you’re only in the team because of your dad, but it's ok.”
For all his football pedigree, Dolcetti comes across as a humble, well-grounded individual. He is furthering his interest in sport studying Football Coaching and Performance at the University of Chichester.
Dolcetti started the degree in September when he arrived in England. He's really enjoying the course. “It’s really nice, a new experience for me. I’m having to get used to everything and my English is improving which helps.”
He has played in Serie D, the fourth division in the Italian League. As well as turning out for Bognor in the Ryman League and Chichester City in the Southern Combination Premier Division Dolcetti is also a key part of the university first team that competes in the top tier of British Universities and Colleges Sport.
Dolcetti's impeccable control, a wand of a left foot and that ability to find time on the ball even in the tightest of spaces have been a valuable asset and a late winner in extra-time from the Italian against Birmingham University sent Chichester into the quarter finals of the national championships. He believes the university team are a “good group” that could achieve even more next year.
Dolcetti's football career has now taken a new turn after his selection for the England Universities football team. Any nationals are legible as long as the player is studying at an English university.
Dolcetti couldn't attend the first trial before Christmas as he was taking his FA Level 1 coaching course but he was a stand-out player at the second trials in February competing against 50 or so of the top football players from universities around the country.
He adds: “It was a good experience and I played quite well. The England coach called me in and said you have made the team.”
The Dolcetti family are proud of this, if a little bemused that Lorenzo is playing for England. Strangely he is not the only Italian born player in the side. Dolcetti is thrilled though that he and his countryman both play in midfield, and might add a bit of Italian flair to an English side.
“It’s really good actually. We find each other on the pitch well.”
Dolcetti is looking forward to playing for England against Ireland, Wales and Scotland in April at the Home Nations event in Edinburgh.
Words by Ciar Cox, Sports Media student
Photos by Tommy McMillan