Blog by: Tanya
Last night at the San Paolo in Naples, a certain player might have come of age. Imagine if you could score a match-winning, scorcher of a free kick in front of your home crowd in a Champions League clash against last term’s finalists. That’s precisely what Lorenzo Insigne did.
Not many people know much about the Italy international, who was until recently playing for Serie B club Pescara after being loaned out by Napoli.
Now, the 22-year-old and Napoli have committed to each other until 2018.
“Lorenzo’s contract has been extended to five years,” Napoli president De Laurentiis announced on twitter. “From this season, Lorenzo will earn €700,000 more.”
Insigne was signed by Napoli in 2009 as a 18-year old, though he could not bag a game first time around. He was then loaned out to Pro Cavese, where he made 10 appearances without any goals.
Afterwards, he was loaned out to Foggia Calcio, which is the third-tier league in Italy, and he impressed with his performances scoring 19 goals from 33 games.
In 2010, Insigne moved to Serie B club Pescara, where his 18 goals from 37 games caught Napoli’s attention and he was called back into the team.
The 2012-2013 season was a forgettable one for Insigne, having scored just 5 goals in 37 appearances. He was fighting fitness and a lack of confidence on his part mainly led to the drought of goals.
His Italy U-21 career has been impressive, scoring 7 goals from 15 matches. He secured a win against the opening match in U-21 Euro 2013 against England through a superb free kick in the 80th minute of the game.
Since the onset of the current season and Rafael Benitez taking charge at the helm of the club, a lot seems to have changed for Insigne. His first Italy international goal came in a friendly, against Argentina on August 15, 2013. Italy came out 2-1 winners.
He recounts: “It was a wonderful sensation to score my first goal for the Azzurri, I always try those shots in training with Napoli and it went well tonight. I’m happy when called upon. I am slowly gaining confidence.”
Seeing that he was bound to get a Champions League debut, Benitez handed him one against the mighty Dortmund of Germany. Bigger the stage, the more you are expected to perform. That must be on Insigne’s mind.
In a tough game for both sides, Napoli were quite the lesser favorites to win the game. Napoli aimed to continue their 100% start to the season and Dortmund vowed to start their quest for the Champions League on a winning note.
Lack of chances by the ten-man Dortmund and Gonzalo Higuain’s goal meant the match was petering out as a facile 1-0 win. But Lorenzo’s free kick proved to be the eventual winner in the Group F tie as Napoli beat 10-man Dortmund 2-1 (Borussia scored late to salvage some pride from Naples) to continue their 100% start to the season.
The diminutive playmaker Lorenzo drew plaudits after his match-winning display. His movement and capacity for creating chances was clearly visible in the game.
It was a scorching free kick, almost perfect, which flew in off the crossbar from a tricky angle and proved decisive in the 2-1 victory. It goes a long way in showing how far both he and Napoli have come in only two months of Rafael Benitez’s reign at the club.
Benitez now clearly trusts the man, and Insigne can feel it. “I feel more faith from the coach compared to Mazzarri. I am in good shape physically and the wide forwards have to help out in defence, which we are all happy to do,” he said.
As all players, his Champions League debut goal is one Insigne will never forget.
He said: “It was an amazing emotion to score on my Champions League debut in front of my people, I’ll never forget this night. We started well, were aggressive from the outset and it was all the more easier after Roman Weidenfeller was sent off.
“We did well to believe in ourselves to the end to get these three points. We were compact, like a big team has to be, and that is how you win games.
We play AC Milan in the league on Sunday and we have to take things game by game. Then we’ll see where we are in the end.”