Montreal Impact, former Serie A and Azzurri U21 midfielder Marco Donadel discusses his life in Montreal, the upcoming MLS season and some calcio, of course, in an exclusive three part interview with Italianfootballdaily.com
Preface: We would like to thank Massimo Lecas @MassimoMTL, owner of Buonanotte, for graciously hosting us yesterday, and the Montreal Impact organization for accommodating us.
Today in part one, Donadel discusses his move to Montreal and what his life has been like off the pitch with his family.
Part 1 – Living in Montreal
IFD: Your decision to come to Montreal and play in the MLS was to experience something new professionally and also a life experience for you and your family. You will now start your second season with the Montreal Impact. If you could go back, would you have made the same decision?
MD: Yes absolutely. In fact, if I had the chance to go back three or four years, I would have tried to come and play here sooner. Before joining the Montreal Impact, let’s just say my last three years in Italy (with Verona and Napoli) were not the greatest (given his injury and lack of playing time). I am having fun, I like it here. I got used to driving all over the city and am familiar with many of the boroughs. I particularly like the Mile End.
IFD: What was your first impression of Montreal?
MD: I was very lucky. When I was with Napoli, at the end of the season I was waiting for a chance to play for a club that was right for me. The opportunities that were presented to me were not to my liking. I then was training with the primavera (youth squad) of Fiorentina, where I ended up meeting with Nick De Santis. Nick told me, why don’t you come and train in Montreal for 10 days, see how it is, and then you can take it from there? So I came in October (2014) and did not make any promises.
Usually it is cold that time of year but luckily for me it was, what do you call it, Indian summer ? The weather was warm, the city was beautiful. The Impact staff were great, as was the stadium, facilities. I also got to discuss things with Marco Di Vaio (before he returned to Bologna). I returned home and the thought of coming to play here was definitely on my mind, it was a possibility. Naturally I discussed this with my family, and had to convince my wife. Some time later, Montreal made an interesting offer, and Verona were also pursuing me. I then decided I wanted to come here. It was a very risky decision, having played 14 years in Serie A and given my age at the time (31 years old). However I am at ease with my decision.
IFD: How was the transition for you and your family to live in Montreal?
MD: At the beginning it was tough. In Italy, I was used to staying about 10 days away from my family during training camp. Here instead, I went many weeks without seeing my family (they remained in Italy at the time as it was more convenient for them). I missed my family and had thoughts of returning home initially. However, I have to thank Joey Saputo, Nick De Santis and the Impact staff for making me feel part of their family. In fact, they made me feel part of their family more than what I have experienced at any club in Italy. It is for this reason I didn’t want to disappoint them, and this gave me motivation to stay.
In regards to my family the transition has been good, my family is adapting to living in Montreal. My kids are doing their school here and are enjoying themselves as they learn two new languages.
IFD: Our winters can be long and cold, was it difficult to get used to?
MD: *laughs* This has been a mild winter, thank goodness for that. Last year was a lot worse, so my family has been spared a long, cold winter. It is actually not that bad.
IFD: There is no doubt Florence remains in your heart, that is your home and you will return there one day. How would you compare the style of living in Florence to Montreal? What is similar and what is different?
It is difficult to compare, it is two diverse styles of living. Even for some Italians, living in Florence is not easy. The “Fiorentini” are very “Fiorentini” (ed note – refers to citizens of Florence who have a reputation for being snobby). What I see similar in both cities, is the culture of having diversity with the many choices of places where you can eat well. Also the night life is similar with many people out and about. In the US there were many cities where it was deserted after 8pm, apart from New York. Here you feel the vibe for people to want to socially interact. Other than this, both cities are very different.
IFD: Every Italian living abroad feels some kind of nostalgia after being away for some time. What do you miss about Italy?
MD: Not many things, apart from the family (parents, my sisters, friends). Other than that, not much. For my wife, perhaps there are more things that she misses. There are people who miss the food and other things, but honestly it is not the case for me.
IFD: What advice would you give Italian footballers who are thinking about coming to North America to play football?
MD: For the top players, it is an easier transition as they usually get to choose where they want to play. For the younger players, say those who are 20 years old, rather than going to play in Serie C or Serie B, they can come here on a scholarship, do their studies at university. It is completely different. They have to come here with an open mind and the desire to demonstrate what they are capable of. You can’t say it will be a great experience for everyone, it is really up to each individual. Some may like it while others may not.