Belfast Telegraph

Which ex Roma star will line out for La Fiorita? All you need to know about Linfield's opponents

 

By Adam McKendry

With the Irish League being part-time, fans are used to seeing players who have full-time jobs, and that will still be the case when La Fiorita visit Windor Park to face Linfield in the Champions League tonight.

A squad that is mostly comprised of students, the bulk of the Sanmarinese squad are definitely not professional footballers.

For instance, goalkeeper Gianluca Vivan is an employee of a logistics company and striker Alessandro Guidi is a bank clerk.

Forwards Adolfo Hirsch and Danilo Rinaldi work together in a furniture company, while defender Andrea Martini is a lifeguard at the local pool.

Midfielder Alessio Cangini is the only part-timer whose job relates to football: he works as a youth coach.

And spare a thought for midfielder Tiziano Mottola, who hasn't been given the time off by his boss to travel over for tonight's game!

But a closer inspection of La Fiorita's squad would suggest that this match isn't as black and white as it's made out to be.

Scattered amongst the various part-time trades are a clutter of current and former professionals, who La Fiorita have brought together specifically for their Champions League qualifiers.

Take, for instance, Damiano Tommasi, who not only anchored AS Roma's midfield for 10 years between 1996 and 2006, but started every match at the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea for Italy.

Now aged 43 and the president of the Association of Football Players in Italy, Tommasi will be lining out for La Fiorita at Windsor Park tonight. He originally ended his spell in the professional game in 2009, joining Italian amateurs Sant'Anna d'Alfaedo but six years later, came out of retirement to feature in La Fiorita's Europa League tie against FC Vaduz. Now he's ready to dust off his boots once more.

Midfielder Crocesfisso Miglietta is on loan from Serie B outfit Parma and striker Emiliano Olcese is on a short-term deal from San Marino Calcio, who are in Serie D.

Former professionals among their ranks include Marco Brighi, who spent several years with Serie C club Leece and Serie D side Rimini, and defender Roberto di Maio.

Even logistics expert Vivan only recently left his semi-professional career with San Marino Calcio.

Another ex-professional is Adrian Ricchiuti - the former Catania striker now manages Rimini in Serie D, but will miss the first leg through injury.

Also missing out because of injury is San Marino's leading international goalscorer Andy Selva, but fellow internationals Hirsch, Rinaldi and Tommaso Zafferani have all made the trip to Belfast.

So, yes, it may be a part-time squad that is coming to Windsor, but Linfield had best beware: La Fiorita have a few aces up their sleeves.

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