ROME (AP) – The 16-year-old sensation of Serie A wouldn’t mind taking advantage of his sudden stardom among classmates.
The problem is, he’s being home-schooled.
“I can’t even be the cool guy at school,” Pietro Pellegri lamented after scoring twice for Genoa in a 3-2 loss to Lazio on Sunday that made him the youngest player in Italian league history to record a brace.
At 16 years, 112 days, Pellegri easily beat previous record-holder Silvio Piola, who was 17 years, 104 days in 1931 when he set the mark.
Piola went on to numerous records and with 274 goals still tops the all-time career list in Serie A.
While the expectations are soaring for Pellegri — who doesn’t look 16 when he stands at 1.96 metres and 78 kilogrammes he’s keeping things in perspective.
“I’m keeping quiet and I’m not expecting more playing time,” Pellegri said. “With the two goals at Marassi, under the northern end (where Genoa’s hard-core ‘ultra’ fans sit), I’ve fulfilled a dream.
“One goal I’m dedicating to the fans, because I’m Genovese like them. And one for my dad.”
While he grew up admiring Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pellegri wears No 64 on his shirt in honour of his father, Marco, who never made it out of Genoa’s youth system as a player but was hired as the club’s team manager in April.
Upon his son’s second goal, Marco cried in joy on Genoa’s bench.
It’s been quite a year for Pietro, who last December matched the record for the youngest player to debut in the top division — at 15 years, 280 days.
That equaled Amedeo Amadei’s mark in 1937 set at Roma.
Pellegri celebrated his first start on the final day of last season by giving Genoa an early lead over Roma, nearly spoiling the final match of Roma captain Francesco Totti’s career.
Now Pellegri has three goals in four Serie A appearances in a total of 131 minutes, capitalising on all three of his shots on goal.
So it’s not surprising that clubs like Manchester United, Juventus, and Inter Milan have reportedly made offers for Pellegri.
“We’re not letting him go. We’re enjoying him,” Genoa coach Ivan Juric said after admiring Pellegri’s performance against Lazio.
For his first goal, Pellegri quickly finished off a counterattack before four defenders could catch him. His second was a volley worthy of a much more experienced centre forward.
“We’ve been working with him for some time. He was very raw,” Juric added. “He’s got plenty of power but before he never attacked the area and he always wanted to play with his back to the goal.
“Now he’s changed completely. He’s improving with his left foot and he’s still got an incredible amount of room for improvement. He could have a great career.”
Up next for Pellegri and Genoa is another home game against Chievo Verona tonight.
In the meantime the closest Pellegri has come to showing off with schoolmates was a short walk around town with his teammate and role model Raffaele Palladino.
“I’ve been rooting for you for a while dear golden boy,” Palladino wrote on Instagram. “Now keep your feet firmly on the ground and keep your eyes focussed on the future.”