We interviewed Mario Fontanella. The striker, originally from Naples, told of his career studded with many triumphs and took off away from our country. In Italy no one gave him a good chance despite the title of top scorer conquered in Series D with the Budoni shirt. This is how Fontanella wrote his football history in Malta. In Maltese Premier League he won the championship, the National Cup and several individual awards. Between Floriana and Valletta he has scored over 100 goals (2 of these in Champions League and 2 in the Europa League) which earned him the nomination among the most prolific Italian bomber of the last years.

Mario, from the Napoli youth team to the undisputed striker of the Maltese championship. “Transfermarkt” has placed you among the best Italian scorers of the last twenty years. Do you have any regrets for not staying in Italy?
No regrets, because there has never been a good opportunity in Italy and I had to create an alternative for myself. I still remember the last year, in which I was the top scorer in Budoni in Serie D, in the 2014/2015 season: despite the 27 goals of the season, no calls came. I was thinking of making the leap to Serie B, because these were the years in which some players managed to become professionals, such as Nicola Citro, who from Serie D went up to Serie B at Trapani, but no proposal came to me.

In Malta you are an idol and I know that many would like you in the national team led by Devis Mangia. Is there a chance to see you in the Maltese shirt?
I tell you that Mangia, before being a great coach, is a great friend. We talk every week and we value each other. He has always wanted me in the national team, I myself started the process of obtaining nationality in 2020. Due to various vicissitudes, including Covid, this went on for a bit. Eventually, I learned that the Federation President no longer wanted me because he said I was “old”. I am very sorry, because I would have liked to work with the coach and also because I consider myself a bit Maltese. My second daughter was born in Malta, while her first arrived here when she was 5 months old. In the end, the Federation decided. To the belief that I am old, I always respond by letting the pitch speak. Age doesn’t matter to me.

We come to the transfer market. You have this year finished your experience with the Valletta shirt. Have you already decided on your next club?
I had another year on my contract, but Valletta is going through a very complicated moment. They do not have the president, economically they are in difficulty and therefore, given how I feel for this club, I decided to resign by giving up my last year of contract. Having a heavy salary, I made this choice for the good of the team. Regarding the future, I have had several offers from Malta but I preferred to choose to go out. In the next few weeks I should formalize everything with an important Asian club, but for good luck I prefer not to announce anything.

Will the money or the technical side count in the final choice?
The economic side may have an influence, but my choice did not depend on that. First, I accepted an offer in a country where I can bring my family. Secondly, I will be going to play at the most prestigious club in the nation. Finally, I can try to measure myself in other leagues to see if I can still make a difference. I live with motivation and I like to get involved.

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