Italy fan in Northern Ireland explains his role in Italy victories

Growing up in Northern Ireland has not diluted Dino Cafolla’s love of Italian football.

By Graeme Cousins
Saturday, 10th July 2021, 7:10 am
Italian fan Dino Cafolla with his children Arianna (5), Emilia (8 months) and Vito (3)
Italian fan Dino Cafolla with his children Arianna (5), Emilia (8 months) and Vito (3)

His passion for the Italian national team runs high and he has experienced agony and ecstasy following the fortunes of the Azzurri, once locking himself in his room for week after their loss in the 1994 World Cup final.

Dino’s family originate from Casalattico, a village in the province of Frosinone in the Italian region of Lazio, 60 miles south of Rome.

Looking ahead to tomorrow night’s clash with England he said: “It’s not England that people hate, it’s what comes with it – the media coverage, the arrogance of getting the engraver out after the first game every time.

“The worrying thing is though this time is that Southgate is good, he’s reasonable and he’s the opposite of the old stereotype. They’ve broken a few ducks under him – solid defence, winning on penalties and most notably beating the Germans.

Italy have always come out on top against the English in a tournament setting but this is a cup final, form is out the window.”

Dino recalled some of the highs and lows of being an Italy fan: “Growing up as an Italian fan was great as there was always a chance of success, lets face it NI and ROI are never serious contenders. But with that has come the pain, locking myself in my room for a week as a nine year old in 1994 when Baggio missed against Brazil, and the same in 2000 against France albeit then a little older.

“The World Cup win in 2006 was special and we hosted a massive family party with marquees, screens, the full works. When Italy went 3-0 down to Spain in the 2012 Euro Final, the TV went off, the screens were packed up and nothing was said again... for a few days anyway.”

He said tomorrow his family would be a few hours from home but he would drive back to watch the game on the same TV he’s watched the other games on: “I’ll have the kids in their Italy kits, they are under five and shout ‘Italia, Italia, Italia!’ even when there are other games on. It’s important to brainwash them when they are young. I’ve them all signed up for the Inter Club Belfast making sure none turn out to support Juventus or even worse AC Milan.

“For me I’ll be jumping in the car and driving two hours home to watch on the TV that I’ve watched all the games on. I’ll wear the same top that day, and practice the same superstitions – pacing about, TV muted – even more necessary for this game – and occasionally leaving the room. I can’t have Mancini say in the post match press conference that they’ve lost as a guy in Belfast changed up his habits.

“I’m going to be positive and predict an Italy victory – they’ve had a tougher run and bigger tests. If I’m wrong though, there will be a media blackout in my house for one month minimum.

“Forza Italia!”

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