Tattoos, luck & barbecued bananas: Borini returns to England with the bit between his teeth
Among the tattoos Fabio Borini has inked on his body, there is Ã¢ÂÂThe Talking CricketÃ¢ÂÂ. Like Jiminy was for Pinocchio in the Disney animation, he is supposed to represent the Italy international strikerÃ¢ÂÂs conscience.
Whether the imaginary green insect recommended that the right thing for Borini to do this summer was leave Roma and transfer to Liverpool in a deal worth ÃÂ£12m is unclear. But England, it seems, has almost always been his calling.
Ã¢ÂÂI knew that sooner or later I would return,Ã¢ÂÂ he said.
This isnÃ¢ÂÂt the first time Borini has played here. At 16, he took Ã¢ÂÂa leap in the darkÃ¢ÂÂ and joined the Chelsea academy. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt like doing things the easy way,Ã¢ÂÂ he reflected. Ã¢ÂÂIf you choose the comfiest solution, you never get to understand whatÃ¢ÂÂs your maximum.Ã¢ÂÂ
As expected, it was tough in the beginning. Borini, then just a teenager, missed home. He found adapting to a new culture and language difficult. With time, however, he grew fond of his new surroundings and a lot of that is thanks to his former landlord Keith.
Ã¢ÂÂI owe a special recipe for the barbecue to him, a desert, I believe itÃ¢ÂÂs his invention,Ã¢ÂÂ Borini explained. Ã¢ÂÂYou cut a banana in half, leaving on the skin, cover it in chocolate, wrap it in foil, then put on the grill. When done, you unwrap it and eat it. Now whenever I have people round for dinner itÃ¢ÂÂs my specialty.Ã¢ÂÂ
So integrated did Borini become in the ways of the English that once back in Italy Ã¢ÂÂI had great deal of difficulty getting used to left-hand drive again.Ã¢ÂÂ
It was while playing for Chelsea reserves that he first came into contact with Brendan Rodgers. He then followed his mentor to Swansea for a loan spell in spring 2011 and proved decisive in their promotion to the Premier League.
On his return to Chelsea, Borini found that Carlo Ancelotti had been fired [Ã¢ÂÂhe was a father to meÃ¢ÂÂ] and the club were only prepared to offer him a one-year contract.
He went back to Italy with Parma, who sent him on loan to Roma. Borini was an unexpected success. He struck seven times in eight games, celebrating each of them as though he had a knife between his teeth. Ã¢ÂÂIn Italy it means youÃ¢ÂÂre a warrior; someone who never gives up.Ã¢ÂÂ
Not the most naturally gifted of players, Borini makes up for it with a Dirk Kuyt-like work ethic. He runs up and down, up and down hence the nickname Nascar.
Yet heÃ¢ÂÂs a sniffer too and has that intangible quality of popping up in the right place at exactly the right time. For that reason, Ancelotti has compared him with Pippo Inzaghi.
His integration will be helped by the experience of playing in England before, but also the continuity of philosophy between Rodgers and Luis Enrique, RomaÃ¢ÂÂs former coach, who had his team try to play pass-it-out-from-the-back possession based football.
Borini will wear the No 29 shirt. For him, itÃ¢ÂÂs a lucky number. He was born on that day of the month. Scored his first goal for the Italy Under-21s on that day of the month. And made his full international debut on that day of the month too.
Liverpool play Norwich on September 29, 2012. If Borini hasnÃ¢ÂÂt opened his account for the club by that time, maybe expect it to come there and then.
For an exclusive interview with Fabio Borini, pick up the September 2012 edition of FourFourTwo, out now.