From Brazil with Love - The rise of Eder
An in-depth piece on Eder, Italy's match-winner against Sweden.
Italy vs Sweden wasn’t a thrilling game by any stretch of the imagination. A game of extremely few chances, both teams really struggled to break down the rather tall defenses in front of them. However, another late goal in Euro 2016 meant that Italy managed to get the three points, that see them qualifying for the knockout stage and leaving Sweden with a mountain to climb if they’re to get out of this group.
There was one player who did make an impression, even if he was anything but good throughout the match. But in the 88th minute, as Simone Zaza flicked on the ball for him, he managed to make a brilliant solo run and slot the ball into the right corner of the goal.
Forwards can often afford the luxury of being anonymous throughout a match as long as they pop up when it matter the most, and that’s what Eder did yesterday.
In Football matches like these, with chances few and far between, it’s moments of magic like these that count and one that was eventually the difference between the Italians getting a dissatisfying draw against a lackluster Swedish outfit and a win that saw them become the 2nd team to qualify for the knockouts with a match to spare.
Eder has in truth had an extremely underwhelming 2016, with his place in the Italian squad questioned by journalists, fans and ex-players alike. The fact that he is another of the foreign-born players who’ve been granted Italian citizenship has also not gone down well with a lot of people in the country.
Eder’s career in Italy
Several players born in Brazil and Argentina happen to be eligible for the Azzurri, because of having ancestors from the peninsula and in Eder’s case, his great grandfather was from Veneto, making him eligible to play for either Italy or Brazil. He has also been in the country for the last 11 years, playing for a wide range of clubs in the process.
His inclusion was more controversial because of his current form though; having only scored a single league goal in the second half of the Serie A season for his new club Inter, and Conte was criticized for leaving behind players like Andrea Belotti and Leonardo Pavoletti who had been far more prolific this year, even Sebastian Giovinco who’s had a phenomenal season in the MLS.
Eder’s brilliant goal against Sweden though made all Italians happy in unison and at least for now, Conte’s decision to stand by a player who was impressive in Italy’s qualification campaign seems vindicated. Eder’s characteristics are the ideal qualities Conte enjoys in a center forward; he’s tenacious, has good technique and is usually sharp in front of goal.
Eder has had to face the long route to establish himself as a top footballer, having played for four different clubs in Italy before he landed up at Sampdoria and began to get noticed by the top clubs in the country.
Empoli had brought him to Europe at an early age, and he faced a difficult first few years before he started banging in the goals in Serie B, finishing as top scorer in the 2009-10 season with 27 goals. In the seasons thereafter, he struggled again, finding the net only 13 times in 71 games for Brescia, Cesena and Sampdoria on loan from the Tuscan club.
Sampdoria must have seen something in him though, because they signed him anyway, and he began to steadily repay their faith before he had a great first half of the 2015-16 season, scoring 12 goals and got snapped up by Inter in the January transfer window.
Brazil have a long history of producing a conveyor belt of immensely talented players, and a huge number of these players migrate to foreign countries at an early age and happen to either choose to play for their adopted countries, sometimes simply find it a better chance of getting to play international football.
Players like Pepe (Portugal), Eduardo (Croatia), Thiago Alcantara (Spain) and Deco (Portugal) are some famous examples of Brazilian-born players who’ve chosen to represent other nations and done it with a huge amount of success. Diego Costa is another example, a player who generated a lot of controversy because of openly rejecting a Brazil call-up for the chance to turn out for Spain.
Mauro Camoranesi is an Argentine-born Italian player who played an imperative role in the Azzurri’s 2006 world cup winning campaign. If Eder manages to replicate the run and finish he made against Sweden with more consistency, could he possibly play a similar role in a trophy-winning run for the Italians?