Alumnus Leul Mesfin scores big for Italian soccer team


Courtesy of Leul Mesfin

Alumnus Leul Mesfin smiles at the camera after playing a game in the Bottagisio Sport Center in Verona, Italy.

Irene Yannakakis, Staff Writer

Pursuing his dreams of being a professional soccer player, Alumnus Leul Mesfin arrived in Verona, Italy Jan. 7 after graduating a semester early to play for Chievo Verona, a series A team, as a defensive midfielder.

“The soccer in Italy is a lot different than soccer in the United States because of how much more organized and intense it is,” Mesfin said. “In the USA, you run a lot without a purpose, and in Italy, it’s so much more running with purpose and organization.”

Although Mesfin moved out of the country, the adjustment has been easy.

“I’m learning Italian and a lot of people speak English so it has been easy to adapt,” Mesfin said.

Guidance counselor Jennifer Wibbenmeyer brainstormed realistic options with Mesfin as to how he could finish high school and go to Italy when he announced his plans to her. In order for him to graduate early, Mesfin filled out an early graduation application and completed the correspondence course “Planning your career,” so that he would earn the necessary credits.

“My advice [for Leul] was not to procrastinate, and that it was better to have things completed ahead of the game rather than waiting until the last minute,” Wibbenmeyer said.

Mesfin practices one to two times a day with coach Ricardo Rossi. Their team has a record of 3-1 so far this season.

“The best part of playing soccer in Italy is [that] you are learning and playing with people who are playing at the highest level and some even representing their national teams on a youth level,” Mesfin said.

Although Mesfin is fulfilling his dreams and plans on staying the entire semester in Verona, he does not enjoy being away from friends and family.

“I miss spending time with my friends because it’s our last semester together until everyone goes to college,” Mesfin said.

Despite missing his American friends, Mesfin has bonded with the players on his team both on and off the field.

“At first it was a little awkward with my teammates, but over time I have developed good relationships with them and have gotten to connect with them. It was awkward because I was a stranger and I don’t speak fluent Italian,” Mesfin said. “Now, I hang out with my teammates a lot after practice and games. We usually play video games, get food and chill.”

Along with enhancing his skills and living out his childhood dream by playing soccer abroad, Mesfin has enhanced his skills and hopes to become a professional soccer player in the future.

“It’s intense and amazing to play. The soccer here is just on another level,” Mesfin said. “I am playing better than I ever have before.”