Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Francesco Pizzolla On June - 22 - 2011

The Pharaoh Begins His Reign: Stephan El Shaarawy Joins Milan

As recently as a month ago, not many people could say they had heard of Stephan El Shaarawy. Serie B can be very hard to follow (in Italy as well as abroad) and very few could say they had seen the fantasista work his magic on the pitch. Fast-forward one month and the 18 year-old is on the way to becoming a household name. After some stunning performances in the Serie B Promotion Playoffs, the Genoa-owned player attracted the attention of Adriano Galliani and Milan as the Rossoneri immediately started negotiating an offer with Genoa President Enrico Preziosi. The Rossoneri struck a deal with Preziosi, getting 50% of El Shaarawy’s rights for 10 million Euro’s, a pretty steep price for an 18 year-old, especially an Italian 18 year-old.

El Shaarawy was a talent from a young age. The 18 year-old was born in Savona, in the province of Genova, to an Egyptian father and an Italian mother. He earned the nickname ‘Il Faraone’ - The Pharaoh - because of his Egyptian origins. In 2006, he joined the Genoa youth system and quickly made a name for himself as one of Italy’s top youth prospects, even playing for every youth Italian national team he has been eligible for (U-16 through U-19). In December of 2008 Genoa manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who had been the Primavera coach at Juventus and worked with many young talents, recognized his raw talent and gave him his Serie A debut against Chievo at the age of 16.

Il Faraone became the catalyst of Genoa’s Primavera, playing against players that were as much as four years older than him. In the 2008-09 season, El Shaarawy led the side to victories in both the Primavera Coppa Italia and the Primavera SuperCup. In the 2009-10 season, he went one step further, leading the team to the Primavera Scudetto, the first ever in the club history as he scored in the final against Empoli. He made two more appearances for Genoa in Serie A and in June 2010, Preziosi realized El Shaarawy was wasted playing with the Primavera and a loan to Serie B was planned. Padova Sporting Director Rino Foschi, who has always been a great talent scout, secured the player for the season.

While his start in professional football was a little shaky - Padova even spelled his name wrong on his kit (“El Shaarawi”) in their first match - the little Pharaoh showed his natural talent and scored his first goal for the club in his fourth game. In October he injured his kneecap and had to stay on the sidelines until January. Once he came back, he immediately got his place back in the first team. Although the club started to struggle, he continued to shine. Eventually, Alessandro Calori was sacked and Primavera coach Alessandro Dal Canto came in as a replacement. He was supposed to be an interim manager at first, but quickly led Padova to the upper echelons of the Serie B table and kept faith in El Shaarawy. Padova managed to achieve a shock Serie B Playoff place at Torino’s expense.

El Shaarawy put in a brilliant performance against Varese, leading Padova to the Promotion Final. However, they couldn’t defeat an impressive Novara side and the promotion dream died. Even though his club weren’t going to Serie A, that didn’t mean El Shaarawy wouldn’t going to Serie A. It is very rare for an Italian 18 year old to make 33 appearances in a season and score 9 goals. The last time a teenager had this kind of impact in Calcio his name was Mario Balotelli. When Galliani rushes to secure a player, it means that the player is pretty good.

While he will have lots of competition for a first team place with the Rossoneri, he has shown personality and confidence at Padova that can get him far. He will only improve training everyday with all the stars that Milan have. While Ciro Ferrara did call him up in February (he didn’t make an appearance), it is expected that Il Faraone will become an integral part of his U-21 national team. At a time when many think Italy lacks youth players that have world class potential, Stephan El Shaarawy is a reason for those people to think again.

  • Salifu25

    the guy has come of age(lets hope and pray so. Its up to coach Allegri to give him the opportunity to develop by giving him enough playing time as well as preparing him to be mentally fit for the San Siro, after all even some established players dread the arena there

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