Vincenzo Italiano has showered Serie A debutant Michael Kayode with high praise following the 19-year-old’s standout performance on Sunday, Soccernet.ng reports.
A striking testament to Kayode’s meteoric rise in Italian football, considering that just three years ago, he was competing in Serie D, the fourth tier of Italian football.
This newfound prominence was most evident on Sunday when Kayode found himself in the starting lineup for Fiorentina, and what a debut it was.
Manager Italiano’s bold decision to deploy the young talent as a right-back instead of the seasoned Dodo yielded impressive results.
Kayode repaid the manager’s trust with an exemplary display characterized by boundless energy in attack and unwavering defensive solidity.
The stats from this remarkable performance speak volumes – five clearances, a stunning nine out of eleven duels won, a perfect 100 percent success rate with his attempted dribbles, and a waterproof record of not being dribbled past once.
This fearless exhibition of talent earned him accolades from his coach.
“Kayode has a strong character, he fears nothing, and it’s important when you are this young,” Italiano told DAZN as per Football-Italia.
“Moreover, he is physically strong and motivated after winning the Euros. When he returned to Florence, he kept the gold medal around his neck for a few days.”
Who is Michael Kayode?
A closer look at Kayode’s background reveals his journey from Borgomanero, Italy, where he was born on July 10, 2004, to parents of Nigerian descent.
His formative years in football were spent at Juventus, where he honed his skills over seven years.
However, in 2018, he embarked on a two-year loan spell that saw him playing the 2020-21 season with Serie D club Gozzano.
During this stint, he contributed with two goals and two assists in 34 matches and played a pivotal role in securing promotion to Serie C. Kayode’s reflection on this experience was succinct: “A step backward to make two forwards.”
His career trajectory took another turn in 2021 when he joined Fiorentina, initially integrating into their youth setup. With Fiorentina’s youth team, he clinched one Coppa Italia Primavera and one Supercoppa Italiana Primavera.
Kayode’s ascent to prominence continued as he earned a call-up to the Italian under-19 national team last year.
The crowning moment for Kayode arrived when he played a key role in Italy’s triumph at the 2023 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. He etched his name in history with the winning goal against Portugal in the final, securing Italy’s victory in the competition.
Despite his Italian international success, the versatile teenager remains eligible to represent Nigeria’s Super Eagles, making him a tantalizing prospect for both nations.