Federico Chiesa Italy Austria Euro 2020Getty/Goal

Italy's big-game player: Chiesa proving the value of patience and perseverance

"The coach always wants us to be ready," Federico Chiesa told Sky Sport Italia last Friday night. "He keeps saying there are 26 starters. And everybody wants to help."

Chiesa had done just that, vindicating Roberto Mancini's decision to bring him off the bench at Wembley by making the crucial breakthrough in Italy's Euro 2020 last-16 win over Austria.

Those familiar with Chiesa were in no doubt that he would take the chance which came his way. 

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He has made a habit of scoring big goals in big games since joining Juventus last summer. The only difference was that this was his first decisive strike for Italy.

“I remained calm," he added. "In these situations, you want to go for the goal straight away. Instead, I decided to stop the ball and take my time before shooting."

That mix of composure and intelligence is key to understanding Chiesa's path to the top. This is a player that learned the value of patience and perseverance many years ago.

As a teenager trying to make the grade at Fiorentina, Chiesa was not as physically well developed as his peers, and he struggled for game time as a result.

“When you are 14 or 15 years old, it feels like this desperate disappointment," he told Undici. "I thought many times about giving up, but my family always believed and, ultimately, so did I."

Having the support of a famous footballing father certainly helped.

Enrico Chiesa was a fine forward in his day; a much-travelled one too. He made his name at Sampdoria, starred in a fantastic Parma side at the tail end of the 1990s and scored freely at Fiorentina too.

Enrico Chiesa Euro 96 GFXGetty/Goal

He also netted seven times for Italy, including once at Euro 96. Federico's strike against Austria, thus, made the Chiesas the first father and son to both score in the European Championship.

Goals have not always come so easily to Federico, though. Unlike Enrico, he is not a centre-forward. He is a versatile, industrious winger with a terrific turn of pace and two great feet.

As former Azzurri ace Giancarlo Antognoni has previously stated, Chiesa is not your stereotypical Italian wideman. 

"In Italy, we’ve had wide attackers with differing characteristics, such as my friend Bruno Conti or, in today’s game, Lorenzo Insigne," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Chiesa has dribbling skills and quality, but also stamina, pace and power. He’s like a young Gareth Bale who drives you crazy and never gives in."

However, for all his physical and psychological strengths, it was clear that if Chiesa wanted to make it to the top of his trade, he would need to add more goals to his game. 

Both his father and Mancini told him so. And, as usual, Chiesa took the advice on board, and worked even harder than before to improve himself.

Obviously, as he got older, and stronger, during his teenage years, it became easier for him to compete for a place in the Fiorentina youth team. But what really made the difference was Chiesa's endeavour. 

"When I wasn’t playing, I’d try to think: 'I’ll play the next one'. Working hard in training really paid off," he explained. "It’s the push that got me to Serie A and now has me trying to get better and better, week by week."

Indeed, he devoted hours of his own free time to studying videos of his opponents. "He never gets tired of learning," his brother Lorenzo once said, and that is no exaggeration.

He is now fluent in English, having attended an international school in Florence as a youth, while he also studied sports science at university.

Federico Chiesa Italy Austria Euro 2020 GFXGetty/Goal

Doubts remained, though, over whether Chiesa was really good enough to shine at the very highest level.

And they were not just related to his finishing. There was a feeling that while he was quick, he ran down too many blind alleys. His ability to play on either flank, or even as a No.10, was also considered a potential curse. 

Former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli was adamant that Chiesa would "become the best player in Europe", but that he needed to "find a role, his role". 

There were legitimate fears, then, that he might fade into the background after joining Juventus' star-studded squad; instead, he came to the fore.

Alongside Juan Cuadrado and Cristiano Ronaldo, Chiesa was the Bianconeri's best player last season, continually excelling in the club's most important fixtures as he ended the campaign with a career-high 14 goals in all competitions.

In the league, he scored against Inter, Atalanta and AC Milan (twice), while it was hugely significant that Chiesa accounted for three of Juve's four goals in their devastating away-goals loss to Porto in the Champions League last 16.

By that point of the season, it was already clear that the grander the stage, the greater the performance from Chiesa. His spectacular impact against Austria, therefore, did not come as a major surprise. 

The question now is whether he should start Friday night's colossal quarter-final showdown with Belgium in Munich. 

Domenico Berardi was excellent in Italy's tournament-opener against Turkey, but he is showing some signs of fatigue, which is hardly ideal given one of his most important attributes, as far as Mancini is concerned, is his relentless pressing.

There is no doubt that Chiesa is better in one-v-ones, but there may be a temptation to keep him in reserve once again and then introduce him late on when Belgium's ageing backline is beginning to tire.

Chiesa, of course, will accept whatever Mancini decides. He will bide his time and be ready to take his chance when the time comes. Just as he's always done.