BURNABY, British Columbia — Those who watched Davide Chiumiento’s highlight video before he came to Vancouver last season were awed by his dazzling dribbling, his nifty passes and his cool finishing. Needless to say, the anticipation quickly built for the arrival of the man known as the "Swiss Ronaldinho.”
The electric 5-foot-7 attacking midfielder has enjoyed a distinguished playing career. At the age of 15, he moved to Italy to play for Juventus' youth squad. While with Juve, he had the opportunity to play with one of his childhood idols, Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero.
“When I was at Juventus, he was a very big player,” Chiumiento recalls. “When he was younger he was incredible. I have tons of respect for him. He’s done many great things at Juventus.”
Chiumiento made his debut at 19, coming on as a substitute against Empoli, but it was the training that affected the Swiss most.
“There were players like Paolo Montero, who was a defender, but he was also a playmaker,” Chiumiento explains. “I learned a lot about shooting, free kicks, the final pass, dribbling and many other things. Watching them helped a lot.”
It’s evident in watching Chiumiento's play that he paid very close attention indeed.
“My game is technique, I like playing a skilled game,” Chiumiento said. “When I play a controlled game I play better. I like to make the game pleasurable for people to watch.”
Entertainment is certainly not a problem when the scruffy magician straps on his boots. It takes a great deal of skill to befit a nickname that draws comparison to one of the greatest playmakers on the planet.
“I very much like Ronaldinho’s game, I have a lot of respect for him,” Chiumiento said. “He’s one of the best players in the world and its beautiful watching a player like that.”
Chiumiento’s abilities have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year he was called up to play for the Swiss national team, but was not selected for the final World Cup squad.
“I played four or five months ago in a World Cup warmup against Uruguay,” Chiumiento recalls. “It’s too bad that in the end I wasn’t selected for the World Cup, but that’s the way soccer goes sometimes. I’d very much like to have another chance.”
Like many other foreign players in MLS, Chiumiento will have some hard choices to make in balancing his international and club careers.
“The national team will be difficult because it’s so far away,” Chiumiento said. “If I’m called up for a friendly match, I’ll have to travel thousands of miles to get there. It’s difficult, but I knew that when I made the decision to come here.
“I’m not thinking about the national team right now,” he added. “My focus is on trying to work myself into the team, to look forward to MLS next season. I’d really like to start the season now. It’s some time away but I’m working hard. Physically, you have to work very hard here.”
Chiumiento, who will turn 26 later this month, is no longer the understudy to soccer greats. It’s time now for him to showcase his game to the world, and he hopes that MLS is just the platform to do it.