Such was his lofty talent that as a teenager a number of European clubs plotted a move for Andrea Deidda – and unsurprisingly so.
Inspired by the greats he would tune in to watch, Deidda had it all: trickery, pace, an eye for goal and end product.
Yet, it was his speed of thought, his awareness of others and a unique vision that set him apart from his peers. The attacking midfielder still has the kind of pace to unnerve defenders, while his efforts often leave goalkeepers stranded.
‘Managers of opposing teams used to warn their players to be wary of Deidda, such was his talent as a teenager. Very often, he did things on the pitch that others could only dream of replicating on their Playstation.
In 2010, Anderlecht, Belgium’s most prominent club with a history of producing promising talent, had heard about the little speedster and invited him in for a trial. Eredivisie giants Feyenoord also kept tabs on his progress.
Yet, it was Serie A side Cagliari that appeared to be on the brink of securing his outstanding talent eight years ago.
However, fate had other ideas and much to his devastation, a serious knee injury blighted what could have been, a very different career path.
Born to Italian parents in Luxembourg, Deidda is 24 years old and despite his dream of plying his trade at a big club all but gone, he still holds hope that a team from Germany, France, Belgium or Switzerland will step up their pursuit and bid for him.
Determined to make a success of his footballing career for the time-being, however, he sets the Luxembourgish BGL League alight, week-in, week-out. It is a division that also features the likes of former France star Florent Malouda and that only a few years ago boasted international stars such as Tony Vairelles and Mustapha Hadji.
Deidda is arguably one of top six players in the division when it comes to turning a game in his team’s favour. In fact, he is Jeunesse’s only player worth the entrance fee.
You’ve won a lot with Jeunesse Esch, what achievements are you the proudest of?
With Jeunesse Esch I won the Luxembourgish Cup in 2013 and the ‘Coupe du Prince’ a year before. This is the most prestigious cup at under-19 level. And the fact that it had been 39 years since the club last won it made everything the more special.
What do you feel when you wear the jersey of Jeunesse Esch?
Wearing Jeunesse’s jersey is a great honour because it’s the most famous and decorated in Luxembourgish football. This is a great club. Every player in Luxembourg dreams of representing Jeunesse because we have the greatest history, the most passionate and vocal fans and the best stadium. For me, Jeunesse is a family.
Is there a club you would never join?
I would never play for city-rivals Fola Esch. It’s the other team of this city and as they are our fiercest fans, I could never join them.
I remember that a few years ago a number of top European clubs kept tabs on you. Can you reveal who it was?
Yes you are right. When i was aged between 15 and 18, there were a number of European sides interested in my services. Benfica, Basel, Nuremberg, Bochum, Anderlecht, Borussia Monchengladbach and FC Metz wanted me but I was so unlucky with injuries. Before I broke my right knee, I was on the verge of signing for my hometown club Cagliari. But the injury stalled everything.
Do you have any regrets?
Yes, but only one. The fact that I picked up an injury during the best moment of my career. Who knows where I would be today without that unfortunate moment.
Do you want to end your career in Esch or are you keen to experience football abroad one day?
One thing is sure. If one day a great offer from abroad comes my way, I will consider a departure. But in Luxembourg the only team I will ever play for is Jeunesse. I could never join another side.
What do you want to achieve in future?
This year the squad’s goal is to reach the play-offs of the Europa League. We are third in the table at the minute and the first four teams qualify for Europe. Another target is to win the Luxembourgish FA Cup. On Wednesday we face the capital’s club Racing Club Luxembourg in the last-16 round.
Playing for the national team is another one of my goals. Before my big knee injury I was in the manager’s mind but now it has become more difficult because the manager has set up a fantastic side and it will be tough for anyone to break into it. But you never know, it’s definitely on my mind to turn out for my adoptive country one day.
Is there a club you dream of playing for ?
As I said before, I will never play for another club in Luxembourg. There is only Jeunesse for me here. I support AC Milan, so it would be a dream for me to join them one day. But fellow Serie A side Cagliari wouldn’t be bad either. It’s the club of my heart.
Who are the most famous players you came across when representing Luxembourg’s under-17, under-19 and under-21?
I faced Mario Götze when I played for Luxembourg’s under-17 side in 2010. I also had the privilege to face Switzerland and the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka, Hans Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri who are now all established internationals. Apart from them, I also faced Hakan Calhanoglu when Luxembourg took on Turkey at under-19 level.
Other players I came up against are Mateo Kovacic with Croatia and now Holland stars Nathan Ake, Van Ginkel, Rekik and Memphis Depay.