Australian-born AS Roma talent Cristian Volpato has explained why he turned down a call-up to the Socceroos team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Socceroos manager Graham Arnold announced that he wanted to include Volpato in the 26-man squad for the tournament, which starts on December 21 (AEDT).
But the 18-year-old chose to decline the call-up as the winger is still eligible to play at international level for Italy – ironically a nation that hasn’t qualified for the World Cup.
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Volpato made a post on social media explaining his reasons for Australia’s rejection and saying he wasn’t ready to make a decision.
“I’ve seen a lot of speculation about decisions I’ve allegedly made at international level: the truth is that I’m still at the beginning of my professional career and I’m totally focused on continuing this process at Roma,” Volpato wrote on Instagram Stories .
“Making a hasty decision about my international future at this early stage may be extremely premature.
“I’ll have plenty of time to make whatever decision feels right for me, but right now I know I have to focus on continuing to work hard every day to keep improving as a player.
“Right now it’s time to focus on the game against Sassuolo!”
Despite Volpato’s cancellation, Arnold left the door open for the talented attacker to play for the Socceroos in the future.
“You have to understand that it’s a big decision for the kid, he made that decision and he turned down our opportunity to play for Australia at the World Cup,” Arnold said on Fox Sports News.
“That doesn’t mean he won’t do it in the future.
“He’s a young kid, he’s just starting his football journey. He’s a wonderful boy and I understand the difficult decision he had to make and we’re moving on.”
Volpato has been the subject of an international tug of war since joining Serie A giants AS Roma and starting playing for Italy’s international youth teams.
The teenager has played for Jose Mourinho’s Roma in recent weeks, scoring the winner against Hellas Verona in Serie A while amassing minutes for the Italian side in all competitions.
Volpato struggled to make a name for himself while developing as a talent in Australia, failing to break into either the Sydney FC or Western Sydney Wanderers youth teams between 2016 and 2020.
The winger was signed by Roma after a successful trial with the club in 2020 before making his Italy U19 debut earlier this year.
Volpato caused controversy earlier this year when he mocked Australia on social media after his native country failed to directly qualify for the 2022 World Cup.