Australian coach Roberto Venturato is on the brink of promotion to the Italian top flight with his Serie B side Cittadella, who have never appeared in Serie A before in their 46-year history.
Venturato was born in the rural Far-North Queensland town of Atherton and had an extensive playing career in Italy from 1980 to 1996.
Cittadella finished seventh in the second division and have since then fought their way through the promotion play-offs over the past few weeks and are on the cusp of Serie A.
Citta defeated Spezia 2-1 in mid-May to advance to the semi-finals where they played Benevento over two legs. Although losing the first leg 2-1, Cittadella defeated The Sorcerers 3-0 on the final day to win 4-2 on aggregate.
Now, Venturato’s team have the final test ahead of them this Friday where they face Verona, again across two legs.
Cittadella have the home advantage first up and then travel to Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on the final day – June 3rd.
Should Cittadella win, it will be one of the first times since Mark Bresciano that an Australia has appeared in the Italian top flight. Socceroos centre-back Trent Sainsbury had one appearance in 2017 for Inter-Milan when he was on loan, however didn’t manage to forge a long career in Serie A. Neither did Perth Glory’s Chris Ikonomidis, who didn’t make any appearances for Lazio.
It wasn’t since AIS graduate Mark Bresciano spent twelve years in Serie A with four difference clubs from 1999 to 2011, that Australia had a player there.
Bresciano notably made 123 appearances for Parma, scoring 19 times.
Vince Grella also spent a decade in the Italian top flight, appearing for Empoli, Parma and Torino between 1998 and 2008.
Having Roberto Venturato in Serie A would only help with the development of Australian football as a whole. Venturato could potentially create a pathway for local talent to make their way abroad and play under him.