As Italian football prepares for a winter break, Football Italiano talked to Ascoli and ex-Arsenal forward Arturo Lupoli, who took time after training to answer questions about life and football in England and Italy.
Football Italiano: The season started well for Ascoli this year with three wins and three draws, and you also scored in three of the first six. Since then Ascoli have slipped to 17th, what has changed at the club to warrant this?
Arturo Lupoli: We had a very good start of the season because we did not have much money so we did not have many new players. We had a little more time to get to know each other.
Ascoli have been hit with a points reduction this term, does this affect the mood of the club and does this have an effect on the players on the pitch?
Yes its not the best thing for the players but it gives us a bit more power to push on and give a little more on the pitch.
Scoring three times this year and with three assists how would you do you think you are playing at the moment?
I had a very difficult time in October, but November was magic for me and the team. I am playing good football at the moment and results are coming with it.
Are you fully settled in living in Ascoli? How does it compare to the areas you lived in England? Where have you been most settled so far?
Ascoli is a great little city but its so different to the English ones. I used to love Norwich, I really enjoyed living there but London will always be my favourite city.
What are your hopes for Ascoli this year? What potential do you think the club has?
We want to maintain in Serie B. It is our first goal. The team is quite good but we need some good results to stay away from relegation.
Being born in Brescia did you follow your local team or as a boy did you watch one of the bigger teams such as Milan or Juventus?
Yes Brescia is my home city, but Milan is my favourite team and my favourite player was Shevchenko, I used to go and watch him in the 2002/03 season…..I loved it!
In your time at Parma’s Allievi, you scored 45 goals in 22 games making you a target for many Serie A clubs, what prompted the move to England and Arsenal?
Yes, I had the chance to go to Arsenal which is one of the biggest clubs in the world and the opportunity to leave and play with the best players in the world made the difference. Also getting to know a different way of living and different cultures made me move.
How would you rate Parma’s youth facilities and how do they compare with the rest of Serie A?
Parma’s academy is one of the best in Italy, we had a very good training field and a very good gym. I think Inter, Atalanta and Roma are probably the best.
What was the technical quality of the players like at the time at Parma? Have you seen better at other clubs you have been at?
I have seen many good players through the years and my teammate at Parma Giuseppe Rossi was one of them. At Arsenal the likes of [Thierry ]Henry, [Patrick] Vieira, [Robert] Pirès and [Francesc] Fàbregas were the top you could ever see. Also with Fiorentina, Adrian Mutu and Giampaolo Pazzini were two great players I liked.
You mentioned during your time at Parma you played with Giuseppe Rossi – did you know each other well? Were you rivals or friends and do you keep in touch?
Giuseppe is a great boy with lots of skills, he is really ambitious and there was a bit of rivalry in the Parma youth team but we meet again with Italy U-21’s and we keep in touch some times to see how it goes.
Whilst at Arsenal you continued your impressive scoring record, 27 goals in 32 games for the reserve team, what did you make of the set up of Arsenal’s youth team and the facilities?
Arsenal’s facilities are great and helped my development and I am really happy to be part of such a great club. Also reserve Coach Neil Banfield and scout Liam Brady made a difference for me.
Whilst at Arsenal did you feel as though Arsène Wenger was involved a lot with the youth set up? Was he approachable or did you see him as a distant figure?
Wenger is always there to watch the youth team players in training and play. He is a great man and a fantastic manager, especially for the youth players.
Do you think there was a gulf between the technical ability of the foreign players at Arsenal and the English players?
At Arsenal there was so many foreign players which made the club special and helped the Gunners win many titles, but the English players such as Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell were the part of the team that kept the English spirit.
In your opinion have Italy and England got a long way to go to catch up with Spain with regard to quality of youth system?
No, I think they are really close but maybe Spain’s is a little more spectacular.
In 2007 you joined Fiorentina, was this a good experience for you? How did the move come about as it was rumoured you had secured a deal with Napoli?
I chose Fiorentina because it was the best thing to do at that moment, Napoli is a great club and my family is from Napoli so I dream of playing at least one year there.
Have you any regrets about your experience in Florence?
I don’t regret anything, it is all experience but maybe I left Arsenal too soon? But its all part of the game.
Whilst at Fiorentina you went on loan at Treviso. During this time the club went bankrupt. After being at such a stable club like Arsenal this must have been a shock, what do you think were the main differences in the way the club was run?
In Italy there are many problems at the moment. The main one is that clubs with no money get into the division, making a problem for the F.I.G.C (Italian Football Association).
What would be your dream move in Serie A?
To come back to Fiorentina.
What is your most memorable goal and why?
Arsenal 3-1 Everton My first game at Highbury, two great goals!
Who is the best player you have ever played with?
Cesc Fàbregas and Robert Pirès are at the top.
Who in your opinion is the best Italian player of all time?
Would you ever consider going into management when you finish your playing career?
Yes I would, I would like to train kids and the younger players.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
My family/my head sometimes.