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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:29 am

England to play in World Cup final...ok, it's just the one Englishman
5th July 2006

Perrotta in action against Germany. He was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, near Manchester. Unfortunately, he didn't stay in England and play for the England national team.

There will be no three lions on his shirt and no singing of God Save the Queen but by birth, if nothing else, England will have a footballer on the pitch at the World Cup final.

For Italy midfielder Simone Perrotta is actually as English as David Beckham.

Italy's magical late show

Perrotta first kicked a ball on a school playground in his birthplace of Ashton-under-Lyne, near Manchester.

His Lancastrian youth was cut short when his parents Francesco and Maria decided to return to southern Italy in 1982 with their five-year-old son and his brothers Gianluca and Max.

"My father was in England for work and as a consequence I was born there. I have a few memories of Ashton but they are just flashes," Perrotta said. Had the family stayed in Ashton, Perrotta could have made his mark in the same north west schools football scene as his contemporary, England full back Phil Neville, who was born just down the road in Bury.

Instead it was in the Calabrian city of Cosenza where Perrotta began to play organised football before joining the region's top side Reggina.

The 26-year-old central midfielder, has long since lost his English language skills.

"Unfortunately I forgot it all but the strange thing is that when my parents decided to move back to Italy, I could only speak English and not a word of Italian," he says.

Perrotta is not the only English-born player to play for Italy - Giuseppe Wilson, a sweeper for Lazio, earned three caps in the early 1970s.

Other people to have been born in Ashton-under-Lyne include Geoff Hurst, the only player to ever score a hat-trick in the World Cup Final, and my father.

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