Arturo Lupoli On Arsenal, Derby County And His Journey Towards Management

Arturo Lupoli On Arsenal, Derby County And His Journey Towards Management

An interview with Arturo Lupoli, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You came through the youth set-up at Parma before moving to Arsenal as a teenager and played for the first team on nine occasions, scoring three goals. What are your memories of those first-team appearances?

“Those games were incredible because I joined Arsenal off the back of winning the Italian under 17s title at Parma and I dreamed of one day playing for the first team.

“All in all, to represent the first team on nine occasions and score three goals for Arsenal against teams such as Everton and Reading means so much to me.

“Many of my appearances came in the League Cup but I was also able to represent Arsenal in the Premier League against Blackburn Rovers which was another proud moment for me.

“It was incredible to be able to train and play alongside some of the best players in the world who played at Arsenal during that period such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira.

“I have to say that all of the top players were so good with me as a young player. They demanded high standards but they also looked after you.

“I remember Thierry Henry speaking with me in Italian many times on the training pitch and giving me lots of good advice.

“Robin Van Persie arrived at the club around the same time as me and he was great to be around and learn from too as was Dennis Bergkamp. He was coming towards the end of his career but he was a genius and you could see that ability even at the end of his career.”

What was Arsene Wenger like with you as a young player?

“Arsene was a great manager and a great person.

“He was amazing with young players such as myself, he took an interest in you and your development.

“Looking back, I was fortunate to be trained by one of the greatest managers of all time.”

You joined Derby County on loan in the 2006/07 season and helped the club win promotion to the Premier League during your time there. How did it feel to be a part of a successful promotion-winning team? 

“Derby County was a good place to play football, the fans treated me very well and I felt at home there.

“I scored goals and made many assists while learning a lot from playing in a successful team.

“Winning promotion for the fans meant so much to me and I learned so much and improved as a footballer due to my time at Derby.

“The Championship is a tough division to play in but I loved the test of each game at that level.”

You left Arsenal for Fiorentina in the summer of 2007. The move did not work out as you would have liked and you spent most of your time away from the club on loan. Looking back, do you regret making that move at all? 

“For sure, it was a regret because it ended up being the turning point in my career and not in a good way.

“I made the move to Florence at the age of twenty on the advice of the agent that I had at the time.

“I was offered a four-year deal to stay at Arsenal and the opportunity to join Derby County on loan in the Premier League but I turned that down to return to Italy.

“Looking back, I should have stayed at Arsenal and taken the opportunity to play for Derby in the Premier League.

“Unfortunately, I was not given the best advice and the decision that I made turned out to be the wrong decision that negatively affected my career.

“If I could turn back the clock, I would have made a different decision, without doubt.”

After leaving Fiorentina in 2009, you played for clubs such as Ascoli and Catania in Serie B. How do you reflect on your career post-Arsenal as a whole? 

“I had loan spells at Norwich City and Sheffield United while at Fiorentina which I enjoyed even if they were not as successful as my time at Derby.

“I wish I would have stayed in English football because my game suited the style of play in England and I enjoyed living in England too.

“My time in Italy was not too bad as I played in Serie B for many years which is a good standard of football but, ultimately, an ankle injury that I suffered during that time halted my hopes of reaching the highest level again.”

You represented Italy at various youth levels up to the under 21s. How much did it mean to you and your family when you pulled on the blue shirt of the Azzurri?

“It meant everything to me and my family because to represent Italy is what every young child dreams of.

“It is the best thing that you can do in football as an Italian.

“I loved the experience of going away with the national team and I scored goals at each of the youth levels too which as a striker makes the memories even better.

“I am proud to have been a part of Italian football history at youth level.”

Finally, Arturo, you are now a coach at Parma where you started your journey in football many years ago. How much are you enjoying being on the other side of the touchline and do you want to become a manager in the future?

“I love coaching. I never thought about doing it while I was a player but during the COVID-19 lockdowns, I thought more deeply about football and had a desire to become a coach.

“I am working towards my UEFA A licence and I want to continue to progress throughout my coaching qualifications so that I can become a manager in my own right in future.

“I worked at Monza last season before returning to Parma and I am enjoying my work with the players. I am thankful to both clubs for the opportunities that they have given me.

“My ambition in the coming years would be to become a manager in Italy or in the U.K. because I love the footballing culture of both places.”