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SerieAWeekly On June - 4 - 2011

Torino Defender Angelo Ogbonna Called Up By Italy

Young Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna has been called up by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli for the friendly match against the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, so we invited Rob Gillman (the excellent Torino Blogger) to tell us more.

Whilst the match against Giovanni Trappatoni’s Irish side is only a friendly, and Ogbonna is by no means guaranteed to gain his first cap in the match, it certainly shows that Prandelli thinks highly of a player who has only played 23 Serie A games in his career, with many of those coming as a substitute. In a season of disappointment for Torino, the continued emergence of Ogbonna has been a positive, as the vice captain was arguably Toro’s best player this season, and is expected to make a big money move to a Serie A club after Torino’s failure to gain promotion.

Born in Cassino, Ogbonna came through the club’s youth academy, and made his Torino debut in 2007, before spending the following season on loan at Crotone in Serie C1. He returned to Torino and made a number of appearances in the first team, including an impressive performance in a 1-0 victory at home to Napoli in December 2008. However, the day after this game, he was involved in a serious car accident when he lost control of his car and drove off a bridge near Turin. Incredibly, Ogbonna returned to training just twelve days after the accident, as he was lucky to escape with just a broken shoulder.

Despite performing admirably, he was unable to prevent Torino being relegated to Serie B, but after a number of departures, the defender became a regular starter the following season. After first coming into the team as a left back, Ogbonna made the transition to centre back and once again performed well as Torino narrowly failed to win promotion after being beaten in the Playoff final by Brescia.

At just 23 years old, Ogbonna certainly has the potential to become a stalwart of the Italian national team for many years to come. His main attributes are his pace and his reading of the game, as well as the fact that he can play both as a left sided centre back, and as a left back. Whilst he does like to play the ball out of the back four, on occasion, he is guilty of sometimes overplaying, when he would perhaps be better served by getting rid of the ball much earlier. Another criticism would be that he can sometimes over commit himself too tackles that are unnecessary that often result in bookings, therefore (without wanting to sound too much like Ray Wilkins) he would be better served to stay on his feet when he can’t get the ball.

As an Italian of Nigerian descent, Ogbonna had previously been called up by Nigeria, however much like Mario Balotelli did when he was faced with the choice of which national team he should represent, Ogbonna has chosen to give his allegiances to his birth country Italy. His call up to the national team was definitely a surprise, if only in the fact that it has came so early, and that he has been playing in Serie B for the past two seasons, although after making ten appearances for the Italy Under 21s, his step up to the full national team was perhaps to be expected.

Fingers crossed he will get his opportunity to win his first cap, and be the first Torino player to play for Italy since Alessandro Rosina in 2007, and maybe add a couple of million euros on to his price tag, or even convince him that he can get national recognition whilst staying in the second tier with Torino.

Good Luck Angelo

Follow Rob on Twitter here and visit his excellent blog

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