Cristian Volpato was selected in Australia’s World Cup 2022 squad but declined the call-up, according to Socceroos boss Graham Arnold.
Arnold named his 26-man squad for the Qatar-hosted tournament on Tuesday afternoon, with plenty of surprises including the non-selection of Socceroos stalwarts Tom Rogic and Trent Sainsbury.
Born in Australia, Volpato has been subject of an international tug of war since he joined Serie A giants AS Roma and started playing for Italy’s international youth teams.
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The 18-year-old has starred for Jose Mourinho’s Roma in recent weeks, scoring the winner against Hellas Verona in Serie A, while picking up minutes in all competitions for the Italian side.
With Volpato not publicly declaring his international career to Australia or Italy – who missed the World Cup – Arnold tried to call the winger up to the green and gold team.
But the teenager made it clear he did want to play for Australia in Qatar, signalling his likely intention to play for Italy in the future.
“Right up until 11pm time here last night [I was trying to get Volpato in the squad]…it’s not my decision,” Arnold said in his squad announcement press conference.
“I spoke to Cristian yesterday three times. Before that I spoke to him on numerous occasions. I pretty much told him yesterday that he was in the 26-man squad.
“He wanted to go away and think about it. Wanted to speak to the people around him that help guide his career and he came back last night and declined the offer to come and play for Australia at the World Cup.
“That’s his decision at the end of the day. I’d rather look at the young boys we’ve got in and the young Australian boys who will come into the camp.
“Cristian feels at this time of his career it’s such a massive decision and at this moment of time he doesn’t want to make this massive decision which is all his right.”
Volpato struggled to make a name for himself while developing as a talent in Australia and couldn’t break through in the youth teams at Sydney FC or Western Sydney Wanderers between 2016-2020.
The winger was snapped up by Roma after a successful trial with the club in 2020, before making his debut for Italy under-19’s earlier this year.
Volpato courted controversy earlier this year when he mocked Australia on social media after his birth nation failed to qualify directly for World Cup 2022.