Nina Kajzba is another one of those young footballers that makes the rest of us think; ‘what was I doing with my life when I was 17?’ The Roma youngster only turned 17 back in April, and she has already made the incredibly brave decision to uproot her life in Slovenia and head to the Eternal City to chase her dreams.
Chatting during an exclusive interview with Forza Italian Football, Kajzba explained her decision to take the leap of faith and move to a new country.
“At the start, it was pretty hard because I had to leave my country and my family,” Kajzba said, “but the girls and the staff are really nice so it’s good to be here and I’m feeling great now.”
The pull of Italy
The emotional blow of leaving her friends and family behind appears to have been softened by the architectural beauty of Rome, as well as the local cuisine that seems to have been key to Kajzba’s decision-making.
“It’s a big city and it’s probably the most beautiful city I have ever been to,” Kajzba said. “There were a few offers from other teams but I like Italy and I like the food, maybe that’s the reason that I like Italy.
“I came here with my manager and the people and training centre were so good. I was just so impressed by everything so it was clear that joining Roma was the right decision.”
Moving abroad at such a young age is an incredibly big decision for someone to make, but it’s one that Kajzba seems to think more young players should be making.
The striker’s goalscoring record back in Slovenia was frighteningly good. She had netted 32 goals in 14 appearances for the ZNK Pomurje first team. She also made four appearances in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, picking up a goal along the way.
“I did feel like I needed a bigger challenge than Slovenia,” Kajzba admitted. “Being in Slovenia was a comfort zone for me and it wasn’t something I was very excited about whereas here I have the opportunity to play with some really good players. This league [Serie A Femminile] is very good, so I can improve more here than in Slovenia.”
“It’s just an amazing opportunity … I am very ambitious and I want to show what I can do.”
— AS Roma Women ? (@ASRomaWomen) August 8, 2021
When asked specifically if more young players should follow in her footsteps, Kajzba passionately explained: “Yes definitely because that is life, you have to do what you think is best for you. So I just followed my heart and my heart said to go out and show what I’ve got at bigger clubs where I can improve more, that’s the most important thing.”
Serie A Debut
— AS Roma Women ? (@ASRomaWomen) September 6, 2021
Given her age, it was expected that Kajzba would spend the majority of her time playing games with the Primavera side whilst still joining first-team training regularly.
She’s clearly been doing something right in training because she was brought on for the last 15 minutes of Roma’s 4-1 win over Napoli on matchday two. That suggests that she could be in line for a very healthy amount of first-team minutes this season as Roma try to stay in the title fight for as long as possible.
“It was the most beautiful moment of my career and I enjoyed it so much,” Kajzba said. “I’m really thankful to have got a chance so quickly.
“I knew that I would be training with the first team but I did not know that I would get a chance to play so quickly so it was a surprise for me.”
The debut was made all the sweeter for Kajzba thanks to the presence of her parents. It was the first time they had visited since her move at the beginning of August.
“They came to visit because they miss me and I miss them so it was good timing for them to come because it was only for three days.”
Playing style and aims
Kajzba is one of those strikers that must really scare defenders nowadays. As her goal stats show, finishing is not a problem at all for her. She can score with her feet, and at around 1.8 metres, there’s plenty of scope for headed goals there too.
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Slovenian forward Nina Kajzba ?? joins the pack! ?
— AS Roma Women ? (@ASRomaWomen) August 8, 2021
This might make her sound like a penalty box striker but actually, her dribbling and pace are superb as well. When asked about this, Kajzba suggested that it’s a mixture of targeted training and her natural ability.
“It’s part of my natural physicality that I am tall and also fast, but in training, we try to improve those elements of my game that make me better.”
It’s also clear that Kajzba isn’t focusing on her individual accolades this season. It’s all about the team and what they can achieve as a collective.
“I don’t like putting it in numbers but I just want to play as much as possible and help the team where I can.
“We can definitely achieve more this season than Roma managed to last season. It’s a great team and a big club and our goals reflect that so, hopefully, we can achieve a lot.”
Make no mistake, though. When that first Roma goal comes for Nina Kajzba, it’s going to mean a lot to her personally.
“I will probably cry with joy.”