There have been a few HS stories about Dalla Valle recently, and they have now been translated for the International Edition. What catches my eye is the way his background is portrayed here, as his Dad is Italian and this has had some effect on his upbringing. He hasn’t declared which national side he wants to play for, but I’d be surprised if he went for Italy. His Dad might think otherwise, but if he’s good enough I’d expect Dalla Valle to choose the country he’s grown up in, like Ashkan Dejagah.
He didn’t settle too well when he spent some time training with Inter two years ago, anyway:
At the age of 14, Lauri went with his dad to Milan.
“The idea then was that I would stay in Italy”, Lauri recalls.
However, in a lucky break for Finnish football, Lauri did not adapt very well to the local school, where things were a good deal wilder than back home.
“And the language, too, was more complicated than I was used to.”
Three months in Milan proved enough.
“I probably went there a bit too early for my own good. Now it feels like it was a useful experience and I have a good feeling about going to Liverpool.”
In the paper version, there is a large photo of Dalla Valle doing keep-ups in the Karelian snowscapes.
The city of Joensuu (pop. c. 58,000) is in Northern Karelia. It has a church or two, of course, and behind one of them is a playing field that gets pretty chilly in the winters.
“Between 10 and 30 below”, Dalla Valle says.
“This is where I used to come as a kid for kickarounds and to practise by myself. A couple of years back I’d be here six hours a day. I still come down here”, he explains as we survey an open area that has a 5cm covering of snow, five goals still upright, and another three that have fallen over.
What’s this place called?
“Errr.. ‘Behind the Church’, I guess.”
Here’s the clincher for those Heliskoskian types worried about his allegiance:
What makes Lauri Dalla Valle an even more curious package is that he is half-Italian (on his father’s side), and at the age of sixteen he lives at a different address from his mum.
And as any good Italian man would tell you, ultimately it is never a good idea to leave the maternal bosom.
Look, Lauri, are you sure you want to move away from home?
“Yes, I am. I’m going there for the football”, comes the unshakable response from a kid who is undoubtedly one of the best footballing prospects ever to come out of this country.
“There” in this context means the English northwest and Liverpool, where he will be heading in January.
Right now his mother Marketta is just ten kilometres away in the village of Kulho, near Kontiolahti.
From next year the distance will expand to a couple of thousand kilometres.
Dalla Valle has had six months of practice at living on his own.
Do you miss your mother?
But don’t Italian men always miss their mama?
“I think I’m a bit more Finnish, then”, he smiles back.