DelPiccolo at Eintracht Frankfurt
Colorado Rush Alum Paolo DelPiccolo (left) was drafted #27 by the Montreal Impact in the 2013 MLS Superdraft a few weeks ago. However, Paolo was on trial in Germany at the time with Eintracht Frankfurt who offered him a contract to play overseas. Ryan Crowley, the youngest player on the on U16 Colorado Rush Development Academy team, had the chance to interview Paolo about the draft and life as a pro.
Ryan Crowley: How old were you when you started playing soccer?
Paolo DelPiccolo: I have been playing soccer ever since I can remember. My father was a good soccer player and so as soon as I could walk he put a ball at my feet and we would play. But playing competitively, probably since I was about 6 or 7.
RC: How did you feel after getting drafted?
Paolo: I had a lot of mixed emotion to getting drafted. Before the draft I was in Turkey for pre season camp with Eintracht Frankfurt and I started getting calls from MLS coaches discussing the possibility of drafting me. That was very exciting, and I was very honored to get drafted. But in my opinion, getting drafted honestly does not mean much in the grand scheme of things. I know great players that have gone undrafted and made careers, and I know players that have been drafted top 10 and not made it. So even though getting drafted is exciting, it was nothing for me to celebrate.
RC: Why did you choose to go to Europe instead of stay in the MLS?
Paolo: Ha great question. It was truly the hardest decision I have ever had to make. What it came down to for me is, what is my ultimate goal in soccer, and what is the best way to get there. My goal is to play in the Champions League. Obviously that means I want to play for a top European club at some point in my career. I trust in my work ethic and ability to prove myself over here and work my way up in Europe. It was a difficult decision because everything about America was more comfortable. I would be playing for Montreal with three of my good friends, Collen Warner, Jeb Brovsky, and Zarek Valentin. I would have a phone; I would be able to see my family and friends. That is all very appealing. But this was a challenge I wanted to take on.
RC: What is the training and experience like in Europe?
Paolo: The training in Europe is very similar to the training at the highest levels in America. The only difference is the players that I am training with. It is for the most part the same type of drills, and same structure.
RC: What advice do you have for kids trying to make it to where you are right now?
Paolo: Well again, I don’t consider where I am the finish line by any means. But my best advice would probably be to listen to the critics, and ignore the praise. When someone tells Messi how great he is, he can say thank you, you are right. But throughout my career there have been agents, coaches, friends, random people all tell me how great of a soccer player I am, this is something that you can never let get to your head. Because until you are Messi, you aren’t good enough. There is still more work to be done. Tom Jurich, The athletic director at Louisville, always used to say "Stay humble, stay hungry." I think that is the best advice any athlete could get.
RC: How did you get a trail for Eintracht Frankfurt?
Paolo: The trial for Eintracht came about through some scouts that saw me play in college and have good ties to clubs over here in Europe. They asked me if that is something I would be interested in and they set it all up for me.
RC: How did you feel after being offered a contract to play in Europe?
Paolo: It felt just like getting drafted. A stepping-stone. The best thing I took from it was my ability to show on trial. This is the third European club I have been on trial with in my career, and the first two sent me home after 2 weeks. I finally felt good about how I showed. I played comfortable and confident, within my skill set. I know that is exactly what I tried to do the first two times but it is much easier said than done. I think that is a skill that is important to have. To play comfortably and confidently in an uncomfortable environment where you don’t know any players, the language, or coaches.
RC: Are you training with the first team?
Paolo: I have trained with the first time a couple times so far, but I hope that it will train with them on a more regular basis in the upcoming months.
RC: how is Europe’s style of play different from that here in America?
Paolo: This varies from team to team. Not everyone in Europe plays like Barcelona, and there are teams in America that pass the ball quite nicely. I don’t think you can compare American soccer to European soccer, because every team is different.
RC: What are your plans for the future?
Paolo: In short, to work hard and develop. Good players play succeed in the sport. I have put myself in a position where I will be noticed, for good or for bad, I will be noticed. So now it is important to make sure I am getting better every single day so I can become the best soccer player I can be. If I do that, I will reach my goals. I don’t have any idea what route I will take to get there.
You can follow Paolo at Eintracht Frankfurt here.