He wears the captain’s armbund of Sassuolo every Sunday and, as a real midfielder, he runs and recovers balls for his team.
Francesco Magnanelli, born in Umbertide and raised in Città di Castello, is a DOC Umbrian, one of those who love territory and simple life, rather far from the stereotype of the modern footballer. He is a halfback, a dirty and hard work. A job done for the others. He started from the youth league of Gubbio and came to the Europe League with his Sassuolo, always carrying a piece of Umbria in his heart.
What is your link with this region?
It is my land, my original family, my friends. I have a very strong bond with this land and for that I try to come back as soon as I can. I spent my holidays in Umbria, it is a very special and fascinating place. For me it represents simple things, the countryside, barbecues and barefoot walking.
So you still consider it your home, even though you have been living in another place for years?
Of course I consider it my home. I always say that I have two houses: one in Sassuolo and one in Città di Castello. In Sassuolo I have my wife, my children and my work; in Città di Castello there are my origins and sometimes, when I am there, I do things I used to do when I was kid. I enjoy the countryside, together with a simple and real life.
In your field you are an Umbrian excellence: do you feel a bit of a representative of this region and of Umbrian sport?
Without exaggerating, I’m just a boy who has managed to get out of Umbria, a region that curbs you. I’ll tell you better: Umbrian young people often go to Perugia to do the university, but only a few of them really go away. Somehow it makes it hard to get out of. If I think of the soccer world, there are so many football schools, but there are few guys who can do extra-regional experiences. Today, I have to say that the situation has a little improved, you can hear of names of emerging young people who might have opportunities, but until a few years ago it was all blocked. In short, it is still difficult to get out of Umbria.
Can this happen with sports?
Exactly. Every village has its own team and there are so many football schools and by improving them, focusing on young people, we could stimulate sport, but also the opening up to the outside.
After your career, will you come back here or stay in Sassuolo?
I still do not know what I will do, for now I take life as it comes. Let’s see in the next few years.
What does it mean to be an Umbrian out of Umbria?
Umbria is a place you really appreciate when you live outside it. You can see from afar all its merits and its defects, that perhaps by experiencing it you do not perceive.
What are the advantages and what are the defects?
The benefits are tranquility, history, art, culture and simple traditions. Traditions, however, can be a double-cut weapon and become defects if they curbs you and block development. Among the flaws there is the lack of proper infrastructure, just think of the fact that Umbria is hard to reach by trains and roads.
What about the stereotype of being withdrawn: did someone or did you notice it?
No. Maybe only Umbrians notice this narrow-mindedness. For everyone else Umbria is a paradise. They only see the best and when they talk about Umbria they talk about it as a happy oasis, a perfect place to live.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Charming, origins – just one hour at Città di Castello and start talking straight into dialect – and nest meant as a simple life shelter.
The first thing that comes to mind thinking about Umbria.
My return to the origins, to simplicity, to motherland.