Forza Italian Football’s ‘Next Generation’ series takes an in-depth look at some of the most exciting players on the peninsula who are yet to make their breakthrough. To qualify, the youngsters must be under 21 and have made a maximum of five Serie A appearances.
For a player of his age, Felice D’Amico is remarkably well-travelled.
The forward has already pulled on the shirts of Palermo, Inter, Chievo and Sampdoria – and doesn’t turn 20 until August. It’s an impressive CV, but one which crucially still lacks a senior appearance.
D’Amico’s elusive Serie A debut now appears closer than ever though, and the Samp man has admitted that he could benefit from the relentless fixture pile-up facing his side as they return from a coronavirus-enforced break.
“For a young player, this whole situation could represent a big opportunity,” he told Il Secolo XIX.
“If Serie A restarts with five substitutions, and so many games to play in just a few weeks, it could hand youngsters like me the chance to put ourselves at the disposal of the first-team coach.”
If D’Amico is called on by Claudio Ranieri, though, it will be because he’s earned it. The attacker has achieved just about everything possible at youth level.
The Sicilian was snapped up by his hometown club Palermo at a young age, and first rose to prominence when he finished as capocannoniere of the Under-17 Championship in 2016/17.
D’Amico’s 15-goal haul fired the Rosanero to the semi-finals of the national finals, where they were beaten by Inter.
The Nerazzurri clearly liked what they saw, as they whisked the talented winger away from his native island and up to Lombardy at the end of the campaign.
His breakthrough campaign also earned him international recognition with the Italy Under-18 side, where D’Amico impressively found the net four times in six games.
Although he struggled for game time in his debut season in Milan – the then 17-year-old forward scored one goal in seven league games – he did end the campaign as a Primavera Scudetto and Viareggio Cup winner.
After struggling to break into the Primavera side in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign, D’Amico was sent out to Chievo on a hugely successful half-season loan.
In Verona, D’Amico finally made his mark at Under-19 level with seven goals and four assists in just 15 games. It was form that convinced Samp to swoop last summer, agreeing an initial loan with the obligation to buy.
Ahead of the move to Liguria, the forward’s former agent Giuseppe Accardi was in no doubt about the teenager’s talent, but suggested his attitude could make or break his fledgling career.
“If D’Amico continues to develop and understand that you only grow through work and sacrifice, he can get to where he wants,” Accardi told TuttoMercatoWeb.
“Everything depends on this alone. The most important thing was getting him out of Palermo, because it’s a city that doesn’t help players grow and pampers them.”
So far, the move has been a big hit. After spending pre-season training with the first team and earning some minutes in friendly matches under Eusebio Di Francesco, he set about dismantling Primavera defences with glee.
When the season was brought to a stop, D’Amico had nine goals and five assists to his name in 17 appearances.
D’Amico is a creative force who can operate as a trequartista or on the left wing, where he loves to cut inside and get shots away on his strong right foot.
He’s also a nifty penalty taker, while the No.10 showcased his free-kick prowess with a rocket of a strike from long range against his former employers Inter during a 2-1 win in January.
The Sicilian hit a golden run of form into the new year, notching seven goals and three assists in nine games, and his technical quality, speed and agility has caused any number of problems for opposition defences.
D’Amico has said that “if I had to choose, I would say I’m a trequartista”, but his ability to play in a variety of roles in the final third could make him a useful asset for Ranieri, who could yet call upon the teenager before the season ends.
The youngster names teammate Antonio La Gumina as one of his role models – “he’s one of the few players from Palermo to make it as a professional”, but his response when asked about his footballing idol perhaps tells you more about D’Amico, the player and the character.
He said; “As a kid I was inspired by Neymar, but now I would say Antonio Cassano, in part because of his character when he was a kid like me!
“When I arrived at Samp I heard so much talk about him, his technical and creative potential, that I went and re-watched the films – incredible.”
With Samp hovering one point above the relegation zone, and averaging just over one goal a game, now would be a good time for Ranieri to discover the next Cassano.