When you play alongside Bundesliga stars like Denis Zakaria, Marcus Thuram and Florian Neuhaus it provides a window into a wondrous new world.
By
Dave Lewis

30 Apr 2020 - 3:30 PM  UPDATED 30 Apr 2020 - 3:30 PM

It’s a world Olyroo and Young Socceroos attacking weapon Jacob Italiano wants to inhabit on a regular basis as his career in Germany begins to take shape.

The Perth product, still just 18, got a taste of first team football with Bundesliga giant Borussia Monchengladbach during the pre-season, making three appearances and getting on the scoresheet.

Head coach Marco Rose and sporting director Max Eberl took note, with Italiano going on to make 14 appearances and score twice for Gladbach’s second team in Germany’s fourth tier before the coronavirus shutdown.

Arriving from Perth Glory on a five-year contract 10 months ago, Italiano is at the club where it began in Germany for Socceroos mainstay Mathew Leckie and is hungry to take his career to similar heights.

“I feel like I’ve settled in well. Everything here is just football, football, football and that really resonates with me,” said the youngster who was part of the Olyroos side which qualified for the deferred Tokyo Games.

“It was a big move but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s made me more adaptive in life and taught me a lot of things about myself.

Don’t smother Aussie rising star Italiano with too much pressure, says Gladbach guru
The man who convinced Borussia Monchengladbach to invest in hot prospect Jacob Italiano is wary of “too much pressure” being placed on the youngster after his head-turning start for the Bundesliga club.

“When I arrived I managed to get involved with the first team pretty quickly during the pre-season, which was pretty big for me.

“It was a shock being thrown into a higher level of football than I had ever experienced before but it was good to know I could cope with it.

“After that you feel the only way is up. I did well and made a bit of an impact. Since then I’ve been back with the U-23s.

“I’ve been playing consistently and I think I’ve done pretty well, so we’ll just see what happens from here.”

Renowned for promoting emerging talent, Gladbach - who sit fourth on the ladder (a UEFA Champions League qualifying spot) ahead of next month’s planned Bundesliga restart - look like a good fit for Italiano, who is working feverishly to improve his finishing power to take his game to the next level.

“This is a club that loves to give opportunities to younger players, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to come here,” he added.

“I love all the boys in the team ... it’s a good group and I’ve been made really welcome.

“Obviously having another Aussie here (ex-Melbourne Victory prospect Christian Theoharous) has been good and made it a lot easier for me. He was here last year and already knew the ins and outs of the club.

“I just need to work on being more consistent and hopefully the opportunities will come.”

Die Fohlen’s Borussia Park stadium complex comes complete with multiple training fields, state of the art gym and medical facilities, a hotel - which Italiano called home initially - and even a museum detailing the club’s textured history.

“It’s a fantastic set up,” Italiano said. “We train right next to the first team and almost every day you get to watch them and say ‘hi’.

“They’re all so down to earth and happy to give you their time.”

The message from the coaching staff is for Italiano to discover his inner assassin.

“They want me to be more ruthless in front of goal and that’s one of the main things I’m looking to improve on,” he said.

“It looks like the season has been cut short but hopefully during the next pre-season I’ll be scoring a few goals and providing a few assists with the U-23s.

“If I do that hopefully I’ll then be knocking on the door of the first team.”