Graziano Pelle scored twice in Southampton's 8-0 win over Sunderland, giving him six goals in just eight Premier League appearances. The 29-year-old Italian has already been named Player of the Month for September and is now behind just Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa in scoring at the start of his first season in the league. And all while looking like the head butler for the world's richest hipster. So who is Graziano Pelle? Here's everything you need to know about him.
-As a child, he split his time between playing football and ballroom dancing. From The Mirror:
“My mother wanted me to dance, my father wanted me to play football, so I did both,” he said. “My mother was a ballroom-dancing teacher and I always loved music and at the time I enjoyed it, but I never skipped training to dance.
“I was made to be the dance partner of my sister in my mother’s lessons. In a very tight suit, all smartly dressed. She said I was actually quite good! At one point I had to chose between a career as a football player and a professional ballroom dancer. Well, that was not difficult.”
-Despite his preference for football, he and his sister won the Italian Latin American dance title when he was 11 years old. His young coach believes his skill on the dance floor helped him on the pitch, but it took time for it all to come together.
-In the first nine seasons of his career, Pelle only scored 38 goals in a total of 200 appearances for seven clubs in Italy and the Netherlands. Then, in 2012, he returned to the Netherlands to play for Feyenoord. At this point he was either bitten by a radioactive Luis Suarez or started wearing a Green Lantern ring he found at the bottom of a cereal box and suddenly Pelle started scoring goals and hasn't been able to stop. He scored a total of 55 goals in 66 appearances over two seasons with Feyenoord. Of course, this was in the Netherlands, where Jozy Altidore was also scoring goals by the bucketfuls at the time, so everyone just went with it.
-His increased production naturally raised his profile amongst the Dutch. As a result, there are tutorial videos on YouTube demonstrating how to copy his well-coiffed hairstyle.
-After manager Ronald Koeman moved from Feyenoord to Southampton last summer, he brought Pelle over with him, paying a fee of £8 million. "He's a tall striker with a lot of movement and he's fast," Koeman said at the time. "He's a player who gives confidence to the team because he keeps the ball."
-Pelle played for Italy at the youth level and at the 2008 Olympics, but his lack of club success through much of his career led to him being forgotten at the international level. He didn't receive his first call up to the Italian senior team until earlier this month when new manager Antonio Conte decided to leave Mario Balotelli out. Pelle scored the only goal in Italy's Euro qualifier against Malta on his debut.
-His surname is Italian for Pele (which is Portuguese for "skin"). So you can call him the Italian Pele and annoy people who get annoyed by those sorts of things.
-He kind of looks like John Stamos.
-He's developing a bromance with one of Southampton's other new signings, Dusan Tadic. Following the 8-0 win over Sunderland, Pelle immediately rerouted an interview to praise the Serbian midfielder. We can only assume that they then went to grab a bite to eat and talked all night about whether there could be intelligent life on other planets or if we're all alone here.
-According to Pelle's father, if it weren't for Koeman and Louis van Gaal (who coached Pelle at AZ Alkmaar earlier in his career), his son "would now be a carpenter or he'd be sitting with me in my van, selling coffee." So he obviously has a couple of back-up plans at the ready should someone steal his Green Lantern cereal ring. Which is nice.
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