By Colin Stone

For a long time, it looked like Sebastian Giovinco was going to be another one of those ‘might-have-been’ players. In eerily similar fashion to the likes of Bojan Krkic, Freddy Adu and even Robinho, the diminutive Italian had burst onto the scene from an early age, showing glimpses of his precocious talent. A bright talent that needed nurturing, nevertheless.

But by the end of 2009-10 season, having played only 37 times in more than 4 years for Juventus, fans of the beautiful game everywhere were wondering if Sebastian Giovinco’s career had gone into an irreversible tailspin from which he could not recover.

Thankfully, we have all been proved wrong.

Although it may have taken Juventus more than six years to realise Giovinco’s burgeoning talent, it looks like at long last the formica atomica (atomic ant) will be conjuring up goals and assists for the Old Lady for many years to come.

Born to Italian parents in Turin in 1987, Sebastian rose through the ranks of Juventus, his local club, to eventually lift the National Youth Cup in 2005-06.

His scintillating performances for the Primavera squad saw him promoted to the first-team, although he didn’t make an appearance for the club until May 2007 when he came on as a substitute against Bologna.

One wonderful assist for David Trezeguet later, and Giovinco was the name on everybody’s lips.

However, as with many gifted youngsters these days, a heavy burden was soon placed on young Sebastian’s shoulders. Just days after his debut, national newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport proclaimed him as ‘the successor to Alessandro Del Piero’.

For a time, it seemed as if the comparison was weighing him down. The trequartista role which Giovinco thrived in was not compatible with his side’s style, and as a result, the 20-year-old was farmed out on loan to Empoli.

But the move turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it was with the Tuscany side that Giovinco first made his mark in Italian football.

Although the on-loan midfielder couldn’t stop Empoli’s relegation in the 2007-08 season, the playmaker proved to be a vital creative cog in the centre of the park, as reflected in his 37 appearances, 6 goals and 4 assists for the club.

His parent club recalled him shortly afterwards, but Sebastian would spent the next two years at the Bianconeri appearing only sporadically in the starting eleven. It was rumoured that Juve coach Alberto Zaccheroni was not a fan of the young Italian, and in August 2010, Giovinco was sent out on loan to Serie A side Parma for the duration of the season.

However, Giovinco proved to the entire world yet again that he was ready to make the step up, and this was no more evident than in Parma’s 4-1 drubbing of Juventus in January last year.

With the team’s hierarchy watching from the stands, the tiny talisman made his parent club realise what they had been missing with two solid finishes either side of half time. Giovinco controlled the game single-handedly from the middle of the park, and although Hernan Crespo and Raffaele Palladino added some gloss to the scoreline, the fans were in no doubt as to whom the star player was.

Needless to say, Parma were more than happy to pay £3m to acquire 50% of the Italian midfielder – but after another successful year with Parma, Juventus boss Antonio Conte decided that the time was right to bring Giovinco home.

Since his £11m full-ownership move from Parma to Juventus in the summer, Giovinco has continued to flourish.

He was a part of the side that beat Napoli in the season-opening Super Cup, and he is already on two goals from four starts in the league.

His superb set-pieces, dribbling skills and inch-perfect passes are sure to trouble any side that Juve come up against, and it’s almost a guarantee that Italy’s beloved formica atomica will play a crucial part in Antonio Conte’s side’s title charge this year.

Giovinco may be of small stature, but he is definitely standing tall right now.

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