The 21st century has brought, little by little, a greater openness to girls who want to become sportsmen — an increased difficulty when they are modalities outside the scope of gymnastics and even greater in the case of sports that involve tougher physical contact. In general, families didn’t like to see their little ones playing ball, but there was one where it wasn’t quite like that. Strictly speaking, the Gabbiadini family even went further: not only did Melania play football, but they also saw her succeed more than her brother, Manolo, in a collective sport that for many decades was “for men”.
Melania and Manolo, united by blood, both Italian internationals, but with very different careers. This Sunday, Sampdoria striker Manolo scored two goals against Verona, ensuring the Genoese won an important victory (3-1) against Verona — both teams are in the relegation zone, but now separated by just four points.
It was indeed a good day for Manolo, but the good days have not been that many. Let’s be fair though: how many young people would give anything to have a career like Gabbiadini’s? Many, surely. We are talking about an Italian international with a consolidated career in Serie A and even an adventure – without success – in the English League.
Even so, at the age of 31, the forward is in the final third of a career well below what he projected. No titles and, above all, no special moments of stardom.
When he appeared, Gabbiadini was a player from whom much was expected. He stood out in an Italian national team that featured names like Borini, Insigne, Immobile and Verrati and he was in the under-21 Euro, in 2013. Juventus even had him on the staff due to the already trivial co-ownership agreements of players in Italian football, but he never took him very seriously since he shared him with Atalanta.
For Sampdoria (which ended up with 50% of the pass that belonged to Atalanta), for Napoli, for Southampton and again for Sampdoria, Gabbiadini was never the star. He was almost always very useful, and a regular starter in many of those seasons, but there was always someone more relevant.
Despite having started his career as a striker, the Italian, also because he has a lot of technique on his left foot, played many of the minutes of his career from the right aisle. Not only for that reason, but also for that reason, he ended up rarely having high scoring records — he only twice surpassed ten goals in a season.
Even though he made 13 appearances for the Italian national team, he was never a top player in the national team’s selections, let alone someone at the level that was expected.
The older sister, Melania, who Manolo admits to have been an inspiration and an example, may tell a different story. The most skeptical will say that making it big in women’s football will be easier than in men’s, but the fact is that Melania Gabbiadini has become one of the most prominent players in European football.
He made more than a hundred appearances for the national team and, above all, was part of the squads in four European Championships, appearing in the ideal team of one of them. She was also the player of the year in Serie A four times, almost always with Verona, and is part of the Italian football Hall of Fame – an honor that, in the men’s sector, includes names such as Maradona, Maldini, Baggio, Totti, Ronaldo or Batistuta. . And that she certainly won’t have Manolo Gabbiadini.
Like her brother, Melania also played in attack, standing out as a striker and winger. Both can be proud of the careers they have made, but Melania, for what she has achieved on the female side, has left Manolo on the Gabbiadini family bench.
In Portugal, the most famous and comparable case is that of the Dantas. And it remains to be seen who will stay on the bench: Joana, a striker linked to Sporting, or Tiago, a midfielder linked to Benfica. Or none.