While fellow Italian Mario Balotelli grabs all the headlines about Italy's multi-ethnic future it is Angelo Ogbonna could well be the poster boy for Italian football in general.
Currently the first choice centre-back at Torino the 24 year old has been tracked by just about every major club in Europe and a clutch in the Middle East and Russia too. But Manchester United or Liverpool look like they're in pole position to sign the youngster at a pricetag of some €20 million.
Italian football supremo Cesare Prandelli clearly believes in his ability and has awarded him three full international caps and included him in his Azzurri squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Denmark and Armenia. He has been called Italian captain in waiting.
Just what would they get for that hefty sum of cash? Well Angelo Ogbonna is a natural centre-back who can also play at left back. Above all he is a towering physical presence that is tough in the tackle and very fast, but he is also a creative fulcrum at Torino, where he has captained the side when needed. He is what every manager craves in his back four, some one who can give leadership and organisation to the others, even in his first cap for Italy he was seen cajoling his more experienced team mates into position.
Born in Cassino, province of Frosinone, to Nigerian parents he was picked up by scouts of the Genoa club and joined the youth academy, attaining Italian citizenship on his 18th birthday. Long been touted in Italy as a player of great potential his role in helping Torino to Serie A, promotion saw Juventus, Milan, Napoli and a host of others circling for his signature.
He has remained loyal to the club that developed him and recently signed with Torino until 2016. He said in an interview with TuttoSport: "I have always been happy here. I have a long-term contract, I will give the maximum this season, my dream is to do well today, I live from day to day and will continue to do so. I do it for myself and for my team. To give glory to the people and to entertain the fans. I would do it too in any other team. It's just the way it is, it's a job. It' s my way of being a serious professional."
There's a level-headedness and professionalism that sets this player apart from the pack and it's a commodity that is much in demand in club football at the highest levels. His compatriot Mario Balotelli has talent but his somewhat emotional immaturity has seen him become the focus of debates that centre on what happens also off the pitch. Ogbonna does not, he says, confront the spectre of racism in football because he doesn't experience any.
With regard to those who do discriminate he says: "Ignorant people. I feel totally Italian, so much so, that I refused to declare for Nigeria. And not out of any sense of opportunism, my parents left it up to me to choose and I couldn't say anything other than Italy. Nigeria? I feel like a citizen of the world. Some people veer towards patriotism, in politics or distinguish between races and origins. I do not. I could never forget Nigeria because I'm attached to those I love, my family. It is only the stupid, ignorant or racist, who think I'm limited or have problems because my skin is black. On the contrary, I'm privileged, because my life was born from the meeting of cultures'. I new this even as a child, when you have the ability to understand things differently from adults, more simple, fluid".
A natural talent like this allied to a worldly wise maturity and capacity for leadership, it's no wonder he is a player in demand. The only blip on an otherwise exemplary record was when in 2005 he crashed his Smart Car off a bridge into a torrent at 5.00am, he was, however, thankfully unhurt. As much as he says he is happy at his club he also left the door open to potential transfer, particularly to an English club saying: "I would go willingly. To have the chance to learn about other cultures. The world of English football fascinates, the style is similar to what we play in Turin and I speak English."
So it's settled then.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty