18-year-old AS Roma star Christian Volpato has snubbed the chance of representing Australia at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.
Coach Graham Arnold announced his 26-man squad for the 2022 tournament on Tuesday, with Volpato rejecting the call to join the team.
Arnold revealed to Fox Sports that the Roma midfielder declined the offer to represent Australia at the last minute.
“I pretty much told him yesterday he was in the 26-man squad. He wanted to go away and think about it. He wanted to speak to the people around him that helped guide his career,” said the Aussie coach.
“And he came back last night and declined the offer to come and play for Australia at the World Cup. That’s his decision at the end of the day.”
Volpato has broken his silence on why he declined to debut on football’s biggest stage, posting a clarification on his social media channels.
“I’ve seen lots of speculation about decisions I have supposedly taken at international level: the truth is I am just at the start of my professional career and I am totally focused on continuing that process at Roma,” the 18-year-old football wrote.
“Making any sort of rushed decision about my international future at this early stage risks being extremely premature. There will be plenty of time for me to make the decision that feels right for me, but right now I know my focus needs to be continuing to work hard each and every day in order to continue improving as a player.”
A creative and savvy playmaker, the midfielder could have his sights set on becoming a full international for Italy one day.
Volpato was born in Sydney, and since his parents are Italian, he holds dual citizenship. The midfielder has already represented Italy at the Under-20 level.
Current FIFA rules would have prevented him from switching nationalities if he chose to wear an Australia jersey at the 2022 World Cup.
Due to Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, Volpato was expected to be named by the Socceroos.
“He wants to make this big decision when there are two countries he can play for in Australia and Italy. He made that decision, and he declined our opportunity to come and play for Australia at the World Cup. It doesn’t mean that he won’t do that in the future,” Coach Arnold voiced.
Australia has qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals on five occasions and will mark its sixth appearance with Qatar’s World Cup.