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the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

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Pro Vercelli: The Best of Youth

I knew there’d be an honor guard at the San Siro. I knew we’d be taking the pitch, in our first match as champions, at the home of our biggest rivals, from whom we had just wrested the championship. That’s a satisfying feeling. But it wasn’t quite enough. I wanted this moment to mean something more. I wanted to find a way to comemmorate 1910 with the joy of the scudetto.

So I sent out a youth team.

Accompanied by Kenji Mogi and the Ferj, nine players aged 20 or younger suited up for our final match of the season. “Go out and lose,” I told them. “Lose boldly. Lose 10-3. We still win the title. The whole point is that we don’t need this match, so have fun losing and play with joy today.”

You know kids, though. They don’t always listen to you.

Inter took the lead in the 49th minute when Sergio Iacopino beat our youth goalkeeper Peter Bloch from the edge of the area. In the 78th minute, Inter’s Gabriele Rolli fouled our 18-year-old Czech right back Jiri Rada in the box, and Kenji Mogi converted the penalty. A draw would have been a fantastic result, but in the 85th minute our 20-year-old Honduran striker Carlos Mendoza, brought on just a few minutes before, dribbled past two Inter defenders to score a point-blank shot. We won 2-1 in the perfect ending to the perfect Serie A season.

All that’s left now is the trip to Southampton for the Europa League final. Roma are tough opposition, but at least this game afforded us a chance to give our first-team players some rest.

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Pro Vercelli: The Best of Youth

by Brian Phillips · May 28, 2009

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