Cesare Casadei

‘It’s Always Been Football For Me’ – Casadei’s Ongoing Path To Success

From Cervia and Cesena to Chelsea, via Milan, 20-year-old Cesare Casadei has packed a lot into his career to date. Now making Leicestershire his new home, the Italian is just getting started.
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A determination to succeed and a willingness to sacrifice often sets those who make it as young professionals apart from the rest. Talent alone is simply not enough. In Cesare Casadei’s case, that is certainly true. Carrying a clear mindset for as long as he can remember – to train and play football at the highest level possible – it has undoubtedly paid off for the cultured playmaker, who is currently writing the next chapter of his story at Leicester City.

Growing up in the province of Ravenna, within the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, a childhood dream was born and started to take shape once he caught a glimpse of his older siblings enjoying the sport he would soon have a laser-sharp focus on.  

“I grew up playing football with my brothers,” Casadei began, speaking from inside LCFC Training Ground less than two months on from his loan move to the Club. “We played in front of my home all the time when I was a kid, probably aged three or four.

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Cesare Casadei

Casadei joined the Foxes in August.

“I’ve got two older brothers and that probably helped. They are the reason I started playing. I played because they were playing at the time, so I wanted to do the same sport. Then I joined my first team. The first team I played for was Cervia, which is the team of my city, a very little city near where I lived. I’ve only played football in my life; I never practised any other sports – it’s always been football.”

With a population of less than 29,000, the seaside resort of Cervia welcomes tourists aplenty to its sandy beaches, which stretch across nine kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Riviera.

Casadei’s next destination, where he spent the majority of his formative years, was AC Cesena. Affectionately known as the Seahorses, I Bianconeri were promoted to the top tier of Italian football during the midfielder’s time in the youth ranks.

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Cesare Casadei

The 20-year-old is an Italy Under-21 international.

An opportunity soon presented itself for Casadei to leave those picturesque views behind, however, and the big move to one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs arrived in 2018.

“After Cervia, I went to Cesena, where I was since I was seven,” the 20-year-old explained. “I stayed for 10 years and did all the academy there. Then I moved to Inter Milan.”

Think of Milan and you picture the razzmatazz of a bustling metropolitan city with historic landmarks aplenty and art, fashion and entertainment all at the centre of its attraction. It’s not all glitz and glamour though for a 15-year-old making his first move away from the comfort of his family home.

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Cesare Casadei

The Italian's first big move came in 2018.

It was the making of the man, however, and despite not walking out onto the hallowed San Siro turf as a player, experiencing the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza atmosphere only heightened Casadei’s footballing ambitions.

He continued: “All the time that I played for Cesena, I was near my home, so I didn’t need to live away. I just stayed at home, it was about 20 minutes from my house, so I was quite comfortable.

“Inter Milan was my first big move. I was very young, around 15 years old. Obviously at that age it’s not easy to move from your home and to go away and live with other kids. At the start, it was not really easy but after I got used to it, everything was really good.

“It helped me, not just as a player, but as a person as well, because I started living away and doing my own things without my family. Obviously, I grew up as a person.

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Cesare Casadei

Casadei has trained with the senior side in recent months.

“Inter is a big club and they are really well organised, even with their academy. They know what they are doing and they helped me with everything. I was lucky enough to meet a lot of great people and I’m really happy for that.

“Unfortunately, I did not make my debut with Inter, but I watched a lot of games there in the crowd, so I enjoyed San Siro but not on the pitch, sadly.”

A chance to shine on the big stage came during this summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup in Argentina. Selected to represent Italy Under-20s, Casadei grabbed the opportunity to showcase his talents with both hands.

Top scoring with seven goals across the tournament, as Italy reached the final before eventually losing out to Uruguay, Casadei claimed both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards.

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Cesare Casadei

The honour of captaining his country and scoring at a World Cup.

Collecting accolades aplenty, there’s still so much to achieve. Now in the Under-21s squad, with a senior national team call-up on the agenda in the future, he is keen to one day follow in the footsteps of some of the Italian greats who have come before him.

“Of course, it’s always a very proud moment to wear the Italy shirt,” City's No.7 expressed. “It’s a big thing and a really good feeling for me and for my team-mates. Every time they call me to go to the national team, I’m really happy and very excited.

“It (the World Cup) was really good. I was really proud of myself and our team because we had a really good journey in Argentina. We played really well and to be honest, at the start of the World Cup, no one trusted us, but at the end we demonstrated that we have a really good team and we can do very big things together.

“Game after game, we gained more confidence in ourselves. We reached the final and were so excited for that. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as we wanted, but we must be proud for all that we did.

“I really love to score goals and when you do it for your national team, it’s a really special feeling, a really special moment. In that team, not just me but everyone had a lot of passion, and we had a really good group. We felt good together and I think that’s our strength.”

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Cesare Casadei

Some debut for the Italian youngster.

That Italian passion was seen once again on his home bow for the Foxes at King Power Stadium. With the scores locked at 1-1, and a stubborn Cardiff City side proving hard to break down for a second time, Casadei was thrown on just after the hour-mark, in an attempt to find a winner.

Two minutes into added time, he did exactly that, firing home with his left boot from close range, to spark jubilant scenes around Filbert Way. It was some entrance and made the Italian an instant hero.

Recalling the moment, Casadei said: “I was really excited that was my debut and I couldn’t ask for more from that. To score on my debut in the last five minutes and win the game, it doesn’t happen every day, so I’m really happy for that. When I scored, I didn’t think anything, I just wanted to express my passion. I ran in front of the fans to celebrate with them, because they were amazing. The stands were full and I wanted to enjoy that moment as much as possible.

“This is just the start. I want to do more for this Club. I always try to look forward for the next games, stay focused, and I just want to keep going now.”

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Cesare Casadei & Enzo Maresca

Receiving instructions from his fellow countryman and new Manager.

The Italian connections at Leicester, meanwhile, from Manager Enzo Maresca to First Team Goalkeeper Coach Michele De Bernardin, have allowed a seamless transition into the Club.

“He (Maresca) is helping me a lot,” Casadei assured. “I’m getting used to the way the team play. When you join a new team, there is a different way to play and I’m learning from him. I’m really happy to have him as my Manager.

“We can build very good relationships between us. There are a few Italians in the staff and when I don’t understand something, I can ask and be more comfortable because we speak the same language. It makes everything easier.”

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Cesare Casadei

On Chelsea's pre-season tour of the USA.

His move to Chelsea, from Inter, followed by a loan spell at Reading, provided experiences in English football and specifically the Championship, enabling him to hit the ground running with the Foxes.  

Not just with the football to contend with, a new country brings added responsibilities away from the pitch. Growing up was part of the process and it would stand Casadei in good stead for what was to follow.

“Chelsea is a massive club, it’s a big one,” the Italian added. “I thought that moment could arrive just once in my life. When Chelsea came to me, I didn’t think at all to be honest because I just wanted to join them. I know how big Chelsea is and for my development I thought that was the best choice for me.

“When I had just arrived, I had to get used to England and the football here because it’s different. I played with the Under-21s and that helped me a lot in terms of football and then in January I joined Reading. That was my first senior experience.

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Cesare Casadei

The midfielder experienced the Championship with the Royals last term.

“The experience at Reading was a good one because it was my first with a team of adults and real football. It is not the academy anymore and you need to get used to it, because it is not easy, but it gave me a lot of experience and I’m really happy to have done it. It’s different. At the start it was not easy for me, but I got used to it in a short time, because I really love the football and the culture here in England. There is a lot of passion about the football, I really like it. There is a different mentality.

“When you change country, you have to change a bit of your mindset, because you have to make big changes, like learning a new language, while getting used to the culture and football. It’s different and you have things that you need to do at the start, but with time, everything comes naturally.”

A quest to prosper, thrive and achieve has burned bright ever since his love for the game developed and the on-loan Foxes midfielder’s growth as a person, and evolution as a player, will no doubt continue during his time with Leicester.

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