There has been some controversy and confusion regarding comments made by U.S. youth national team forward Vincenzo Bernardo last week, comments attributed to him as part of an interview conducted by Soccer By Ives last week.
Soon after the above comments were released by SBI last Friday, Bernardo came forward on his personal website and stated that his quotes were misrepresented and that playing for the United States is his first choice, now and in the future.
In the interest of clarity and full disclosure, we are running the full statement made by Bernardo to SBI about his national team future, along with the question that triggered the response (You can also find Bernardo's answers to some more SBI questions after the jump):
SBI- Back in 2007, you declared that if both Italy and the United States called you up to their National Teams that it would be a tough decision but that you would ultimately choose the U.S. as that is where you heart lies and that you want to help the sport grow in this country. Do you still feel the same way? Has the Italian Federation come in contact with you?
BERNARDO- I wouldn't say that I declared anything really. I was asked an important question that came when I was very young in my career. However, I do not regret anything I said regarding wanting to represent USA. My decision lies heavily on the U20 cycle with USA.Today being almost three years older and more mature on and off the field, i've realized how important this decision is for me so i will take into serious consideration both options. I do feel the same way as I did back in 2007, but I would say that I am more aware of the situation.
While we at SBI regret that Bernardo feels his words were misrepresented, SBI stands by its original report.
Here are the rest of Bernardo's answers to SBI correspondent GianFranco Panizo on topics ranging from his preferred position to his prospects for receiving playing time in Italy:
SBI- For fans out there who might not know who you are yet, tell me what's your preferred position and describe your style of play.
BERNARDO- I consider myself a supporting striker (second forward). I can also play outside or attacking center midfielder. I am a technical player with agility and speed. I work hard around the final third of the field by picking up important fouls near goal and putting myself and my teammates in position to score.
SBI- How was your transition from American teenager to professional soccer player? Were their some huge learning curves or did you adapt quickly?
BERNARDO- Well its always been a dream of mine to become a professional soccer player. So when i lived in America i grew up with the mentality of becoming a professional. when it finally became a reality, i was already living that lifestyle so i adapted well to the changes.
SBI- What do you miss most about living in America/New Jersey?
BERNARDO- Definitely my Family and friends.
SBI- How would you describe your current situation with Napoli? Would you recommend other American youths to make the jump to European youth teams?
BERNARDO- My situation is real good here with Napoli. I have a positive relationship with the club. Hopefully I can continue doing well here and eventually my moment will come with the first team. Playing soccer in europe is the highest level a player can reach, so I definitely recommend for young American players to come to Europe if they feel that they are ready to make that jump.
SBI- What are some of your short term goals and long term goals regarding your soccer career?
BERNARDO- My short term goals are to continue playing with napoli till the end of the season then hopefully go out on loan for next season. Most importantly, The U-20 world cup is my ultimate short term goal. For long term, I hope i can stay healthy and continue playing soccer at the highest level.
SBI- When did you first receive interest from Napoli? How is your relationship with manager Edoardo Reja?
BERNARDO- A napoli scout saw me play in a tournament with the ODP Regional team in italy. That's when i first received interest from the club. My relationship with Reja is a professional one. I am still young and i try to take in anything from the older players on the team. I've learned a lot being with them and the primavera team this year.
SBI- Has the idea of you getting a loan deal to find playing time ever come up? If so, where?
BERNARDO- Yes, there were numerous teams interested in buying me during the January transfer window. Napoli declared that the only way I would leave would be on loan. So i decided to stay and gain experience playing day in and day out with some of the best players in the Italian serie A. Then hopefully start next season with a new team on loan. I am not sure where but i will keep my options open even outside of Italy as well.
Feel free to share your thoughts on Bernardo's answers in the comments section below.