Irish teen endures 'nightmare year' in Serie C
IRISH teenager Conor Morrissey says he hasn't given up on his dream of making it in Italy despite enduring a nightmare season in the world of calcio.
The Waterford-born player took a brave step when he quit the Manchester City academy last summer and joined Serie C side Triestina, hoping that the move would further his career after things had stalled for him at City.
But a combination of injuries, red tape and a financial crisis at his club, a club which is currently in administration, have all conspired to leave the 18-year-old in limbo and without any first-team experience on his CV.
Yet Morrissey is confident that he can get his career moving in Trieste to prove that he made the right decision in quitting England to move to Italy.
"It's been a hard year, a bit of a nightmare to be honest, but I already feel that I have improved as a player since going to Italy, it's been a brilliant experience and if I just get a break I am sure that things will turn out for me," Morrissey told the Evening Herald from his Waterford home earlier this week. "It's been one thing after another since I went out there and I am currently out with an injury, I had an operation on a hernia last month, but I hope to get back fully fit very soon and my plan is to go back to Italy, try to get into the Triestina first team before the end of the season and get back my place in the Ireland U19 squad for the Euro qualifiers in May."
Morrissey had spent two seasons at the City academy but felt that progress was unlikely to come for him at Eastlands. His agent, who is Italian, said there was interest from a club in Italy and Morrissey agreed to join Triestina, who had just been demoted to Serie C.
The club already had a link with this country as Irish boys Conor McCormack and Michael Collins had spent time at the club, though both experienced numerous problems, including non-payment of wages, in their time at the club and both quit Trieste before their contracts ran out.
Triestina saw enough of Morrissey in a trial game to offer him a three-year deal and he was immediately promoted to the first team squad, named on the bench for their first game of the season, but the Italian FA discovered a problem with his registration and ultimately, he was ineligible for the first team until January.
By then the club had encountered serious financial problems and went into administration at Christmas time. The club's future is still not secure and if they don't find a new owner by the summer, they could drop out of football. But Morrissey, who is currently in Ireland recuperating from his hernia operation, remains in constant contact with the club and has been assured of their future, a future that includes a role for him once fit.
"The manager is Giuseppe Galderisi and he has been brilliant with me," says Morrissey. "He had a brilliant career as a player, he played for Juventus and AC Milan and also played for Italy and he has been really helpful. A lot of the players in our squad are coming to the end of their careers but they have played for massive clubs in Serie A and are a great influence for a young player like me.
"It's a massive club, the stadium has a 35,000 capacity and we still get good crowds even though we're in the Third Division. Overall the experience has been great for me, I knew things were not going to happen for me at Manchester City and I wanted to try something new so it was great to come to Italy, experience a new culture, learn a new language," he says.
Morrissey also has international ambitions and hopes to get into the Irish U19 squad which is one hurdle away from the European Championship finals, playing Portugal, Israel and Ukraine in May. "Paul Doolin has been very supportive as well and if I can get fit and get some games under my belt in Italy I'd hope to make the Ireland squad in May," he says.