During his childhood, Juventus right-sided midfield star Mauro Camoranesi lived in the same street in the suburbs of Buenos Aires as Argentina’s top conjurer. It would appear that some of that magic rubbed off on the footballer-to-be.

Since joining Juventus from Verona in the close season, the diminutive Camoranesi has proved that old-fashioned wing play is still alive and well, constantly leaving defenders trailing in his wake with his ball tricks, acceleration and balance. Not only that, but the 26-year-old invariably selects the right cross when he does hit the byline and scores goals too.

“I don’t think there can be any doubt that Juve got it absolutely right with Camoranesi,” declared ex-Milan and Lazio coach Alberto Zaccheroni recently. “He has everything. He’s quick, skilful, brave, has vision, and because of his low centre ofgravity, he’s a devil to stop.”

Predictably, Camoranesi’s exciting start to his Juve career has boosted his chances of becoming an international, but assuming he is selected, it may not be for his native Argentina. Mindful that the winger has dual nationality, Italy boss Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed he may call him up before long.

“It is a little incredible,” says Camoranesi. “I had hoped for a call from the Argentina coach. Ofcourse, I want to play for the country where I was born and raised, but nothing has happened yet. I will not deny that it would be an honour to wear the famous Italian shirt. Italy has given me so much.”

Camoranesi is not the typical Argentinian export to Europe, having never represented his homeland at any level or even competed in the Argentinian top flight. In fact, he began his professional career at Mexican club Santos Laguna aged 19, and even though he managed 16 goals on returning to Argentina the following year with Second Division Banfield, the marked lack of interest in him from big clubs led him to return to Mexico.

At his new side, Cruz Azul, his artistry and 32 goals in 80 League games turned him into a crowd favourite. He left for Verona in summer 2000 and quickly adapted to Serie A. However, Camoranesi was a rare shining light in a mediocre team and when Verona were relegated last term, Juventus arrived to recruit the wide-man in exchange for œ3million plus a half-stake in attacker Max Vieri, younger brother of Christian.

More good business from shrewd Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi. No wonder his arch-rival, Roma president Franco Sensi, despises him so.

Club Juventus
Country Argentina/Italy
Born October 4, 1976, in Tandil, Argentina
Previous clubs Gimnasia y Esgrima Tandil, Jorge Newbery Tandil, Aldosivi Mar Del Plata, Santos Laguna (Mex), Atletico Banfield, Cruz Azul (Mex), Verona