Giuseppe “Joe” DePalo spent years screaming at Roberto Mancini.
Now he’s coaching his son, Filippo.
To clarify, DePalo was screaming at the entire Inter Milan team, not just Roberto Mancini, who coaches the famous Italian club soccer team.
DePalo, the Nova Southeastern University soccer coach, is from Milan, Italy. He is a huge fan of AC Milan, which is Inter’s hated rival.
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“It’s certainly interesting,” DePalo said of the situation. “[Inter and AC] play this Sunday. I’m sure there will be some trash-talking [with Filippo] after the game.”
While DePalo and Filippo are rivals in their club-soccer rooting interest, they have teamed up at NSU, where Mancini is a first-year sophomore.
Mancini made his NSU debut last week, helping to snap a 1-1 tie with the game-winning assist in a 3-1 win over Mississippi College.
He is one of five Italians on an NSU roster that also includes players from Malaysia, Serbia, Sweden, Brazil, France, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, Hungary and Iceland. There are also 10 Americans on the team, including six from Broward County.
Still, NCAA Division II soccer is a lot different from what Mancini has experienced previously.
His father coached Inter Milan in Italy’s Serie A from 2004 to 2008. After he was fired, he was hired to coach Manchester City from 2009 to 2013 in England’s Premier League. Then he got fired there and returned to Inter Milan, where he has been in charge since 2014.
Naturally, when his father moved, Filippo came along, too. For a time, Filippo played for Manchester City’s Elite Development squad, but that arrangement ended when his father got fired.
Ultimately, Filippo, who turns 25 in October, decided he wanted to get his college degree while still playing soccer. He had gotten to know NSU’s campus because of another Italian player who had competed for the Sharks.
He arrived on campus last year and had to sit out one season as per NCAA rules for players who had been out of school for a while.
“He showed he was willing to be a student,” DePalo said. “That was appealing to us.”
Mancini, who has gone to various American schools throughout Italy — in Genoa, Rome, Milan and Florence — is fairly comfortable in English, although his accent remains.
“I see [NSU] as a good opportunity,” said Mancini, who is majoring in Sports Management. “In Europe, it’s harder to combine studying and [soccer]. Over there, [soccer] is a job.”
Mancini, a 6-foot, 165-pound attacking midfielder who likes to play on the wings, said U.S. college soccer has been an adjustment.
“Here, soccer is a lot less technical and tactical,” he said. “It’s more running and physical.”
His father, by the way, was an exceptional player, representing Italy when it hosted the 1990 World Cup. Germany won that World Cup over Argentina, and Italy finished third.
Roberto Mancini, who was 25 at the time, never got in a World Cup game because he was stuck on the depth chart behind star forwards such as Roberto Baggio, who is the sixth-leading scorer in Italian National Team history.
Filippo is a long way from that level, but he said he’s happy to be playing college soccer in the U.S.
“Soccer here is not like in Europe,” he said. “It’s less known. … It’s more tranquil.
“If [another opportunity] comes up, I will evaluate. But at the moment, my mind is on the Sharks and studying.”