Vito Mannone Interview

Vito Mannone Interview

We’re pleased to announce the signing of Premier League goalkeeper, Vito Mannone. The 28 year old, Sunderland number one, has joined the Concave family and will be wearing the VOLT + boot when he laces up for The Black Cats. We caught up with the man himself to discuss life growing up in Italy, moving to England at a young age and of course his thoughts on the boots he’ll be rocking every weekend...

What got you into football?

It was all very natural really. My Dad was a big AC Milan fan and I had my season ticket ready for me even before I was born! I went straight into football, loved it and started to play when I was around 4 5 and since then I’ve never stopped really.

Where abouts did you grow up then?

When I was young I started to go to this football pitch next to the church. I spent my days playing football. That’s how I got into the sport. As soon as I could sign for the club, which was next to the pitch I was playing on, I did. They were a small club, not professional but I started to play there when I was 5. I played a couple of years with the bigger boys and somebody noticed me at Atalanta. I was about 7 when they asked me to go on trial. Atalanta is a club coming from Bergamo, which was an hour drive everyday. I had this trial and after that everything went well. Atalanta decided to give me a chance and since then, from 7, I played for Atalanta all the way up to 16 and that’s the moment when I got myself into Arsenal but that’s another story...

Did you always play in goal?

I played 2 games outfield and I was a right winger. After the second game, don’t ask me why but I went to my Dad and asked him to ask the coach if I could play in goal. As a 5 year old boy, you don’t know anything about it but I had this feeling and a love and attraction for being a goalkeeper. I don’t know if it was because of the different kit or something in particular that caught my attention but the manager said okay and I gave it a try. On the next Monday after that game, I went in goal and I was flying. I started enjoying myself in goal and it was something that came very natural and it looked like I belonged in between the sticks.

How did the move to Arsenal manufacture?

It was a long road. I had to make a lot of sacrifices, after spending my years working through the academy at Atalanta, which is such a good club. A lot of pro players came out of there. I played at all the stages and the good thing about the Arsenal call, which I always said in the past, is that it felt like a gift from God. I only lost my Dad a month before Arsenal came along. It was a tough month especially being 16 year old boy. I remember the derby game between Atalanta and Brescia… It was a special moment when this call from Arsenal came to my family and after the game I was told they want to give me a trial. It was special but at the same time it was strange because it was like a big club taking the youngster away from the academy. I couldn’t tell anyone about it for a while, then I went to London around Christmas time in 2004 so it was a really really special moment. Arsenal were “the invincibles” at the time and as a 16 year old boy, from an academy, to a first team, I won’t forget my first 5 days. Never in my life...

What was the change like?

It took a bit of time to get used to. At the beginning I took my Mum with me. I lost my Dad so it wasn’t a nice time for my family. Arsenal agreed to give me an apartment so I moved my life and family over to London. I was learning English, learning the culture and learning how to live in England, whilst at the same time trying to play football and achieve something special.

Did you always look to the EPL, as a target or did it just sort of happen?

I have to be honest, I was looking at Serie A. It was much easier when I was going through the academy. I was at Atalanta and I was looking at the first team and trying to get in there. That was my aim, then all of a sudden my life changed. I finished the league with Atalanta and we actually won the league for the U16’s and I couldn’t speak one word, of the deal to Arsenal, for 6 months. I joined Arsenal in July 2005 and now 11 years later I really really enjoy the Premier League.

Who inspired and make their mark on your at Arsenal?

All of them were great but if I had to say one, Thierry Henry was a class player. He was unbelievable in training and unbelievable on a Saturday. Such a gentleman and a very good professional. As I’m a goalkeeper, I learnt a lot from Jens Lehmann. You have to learn to be strong mentally and I was looking at him everyday. He was such a professional, training so hard in the gym and on the pitch. He was at the top and he wasn’t young either. Looking at him and thinking he’d just finished “the invincible” year with so many clean sheets and he was just cracking on again. It was a great lesson!

What were your loan experiences like?

It was tough because of the change. You get used to London, when you’re then and when you go outside of a big club, you don’t get the same luxuries like you did at a big club like Arsenal. The pitches are different and you find out real football. I loved it! I loved the experiences and if I look back I needed it. There were tough games going to the Championship. It was incredible for me and I think I became the goalkeeper I am now from these loan spells. Facing tough games and challenges, it’s totally different from the Premier League and Arsenal.

Strongest attribute of Vito Mannone?

I could say shot stopping but at the end of the day if I had to admit, you can have all the attributes you want but if you don’t have that mental strength and passion in your heart, you won’t do anything. So I’d say that over any physical attribute.

First thoughts on Concave?

I always wear boots that feel comfortable and make me feel good about myself. Concave definitely does that. It’s a comfortable boot and it’s a nice one as well. I like stylish boots, I’m not an old goalkeeper, you know. Haha! I like to use my feet and in the modern day I think it’s really important. For us, distributing the ball is a massive part of the game at the moment so I really need to kick well when distributing the ball. I need proper boots on and since I’ve been wearing the VOLT + I’ve been feeling really nice about myself and kicking the ball well.

What’s your matchday routine?

It’s definitely changed throughout the years. I feel much more experienced now, than I was before. I don’t get that kind of negative tension so I’m much more resilient and strong mentally. I just want to play the game and do the best I can. I know if I want I can be good and that’s what I’m aiming for before the game. To do my stuff and do my bit to help the team win the points.

Any pre match superstitions?

Wouldn’t say I have any superstitions, just a few little things... Obviously I’ve got my wedding ring, which I take off before I go out to train and also my father's chain. So I kiss them before I go out. Then there’s my shin pads aswell, my special shin pads. These have the age of my Dad when he died and I always kiss those before I put them on, so they’re the only “superstitions” I have.

Tips for any aspiring goalkeepers?

As I said before, football is about ability but also mentality. Never give up and however many times you fall down, you have to get up. Keep working hard and believe in your own dreams. I have new dreams everyday so it’s like a fire inside me. You have to keep thinking about keeping that fire alive so that’s the main part for me. Your mind and heart. How much you want it is actually the main thing. Everything is achievable it’s just down to you.

Writen by Concave @ 30/01/2017 23:43

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