Arturo Lupoli: The forgotten prodigy

In the early years of the new millennium, two prodigious young attacking talents were blazing a trail through the Parma and Italian youth system.

One would go on to become a household name, despite his career being blighted by injuries (Giuseppe Rossi), the other would seemingly disappear off the face of the Earth never fulfilling the immense talent he so clearly had.

Born on June 24, 1987 in the northern Italian city of Brescia, Arturo Lupoli always had an eye for goal. This knack of being able to put the ball in the net with frightening regularity earned him caps at all National youth levels from under 16 to 21.

However this talent was honed not at his local club but slightly further south in the region of Emilia-Romagna and in particular the city of Parma. The Gialloblu were still struggling to overcome the excess of the Tanzi family era, but felt this was more than achievable with a duo such as Rossi and Lupoli emerging through the ranks.

To look on the two young strikers today it would be impossible to tell that a great rivalry existed between the two. They were however more than evenly matched in their goal scoring exploits with the Parma Primavera. Lupoli himself scored a staggering 45 goals in 22 matches for the youth team.

Yet with first team action not coming at the speed he would have liked, Lupoli grew restless and yearned to showcase his talents on a bigger stage. His opportunity to do this came at the end of the 2003/04 season.

With his contract at the Crociati coming to an end Lupoli made the giant leap of signing for English powerhouse Arsenal. Leaving his native land was a gamble for the youngster, but a calculated gamble nonetheless given Arsene Wenger’s reputation of developing young talent.

It wasn’t long before Lupoli, still only 17-years-old, was given a chance in the Gunners first team. The match was a League Cup encounter against Manchester City. Having overcome that hurdle the next round saw them pitted against Everton. Once again Arsenal came out on top, three-one with Lupoli scoring a double. It looked as if this Italian wonder kid was the real deal after all.

However like at Parma, Lupoli found it hard to break into the side for domestic games making just a solitary appearance in a 1-0 loss to Blackburn. In the Reserve team though he remained as prolific as ever, scoring a highly impressive 27 goals in 32 games.

It was this form that caught the eye of a number of Championship managers and Derby County snapped up the forward on a season long loan for the 2006/2007 campaign.

Despite scoring a hat-trick early in his County career things never truly took off for the young Italian, ending the season with seven goals in 35 matches. This less than stellar return raised speculation, somewhat unfairly, that Lupoli may not be able to cut it at Premier League level.

As for his parent club Arsenal, they agreed and felt that Lupoli had not developed to a sufficient standard during his three year spell at the club and at the end of that season he was on his way back to Italy to sign for Fiorentina.

For Lupoli it’s a move he still regrets deeply today. A number of years later in an interview with Napoli magazine he discussed his regret in signing for the Viola and in turn rejecting the Neapolitan outfit.

I agreed to move to Napoli, which was then in Serie B and was about to win the Championship and go to Serie A. The management wanted me strongly, but unfortunately there were external pressures that led me to choose Fiorentina. That choice will always be my biggest regret. Going to Napoli was my dream.

Lupoli’s spell with the Florentine outfit brought with it nothing but despair. Despite technically being on the books of the club for two years the striker never made a single competitive appearance for the Viola.

Spending all of his time out on loan, first at Serie B club Treviso where he scored only once in 17 league appearances. It was an unacceptable return for someone who promised so much. For the 2008/09 campaign Lupoli returned to England looking to prove to his former manager, Wenger, that he was able to cut it in the rough and tumble world of English football.

His destination was the Championship and Norwich City. Dreaming of firing the Canaries into the Premier League and in turn getting his career back on track, Lupoli went into the season with high hopes.

However the kid from Brescia once again flattered to deceive, hitting the net four times in 17 matches. The ratio of goals to games was not good enough for Norwich and come January Lupoli was on the move again, his sixth club in three years.

He remained in England with Sheffield United but again for one reason or another it failed to click as he played only nine matches over the second part of the season, scoring twice.

Lupoli’s dream of making it big in Britain had come to a screeching halt. That summer having returned to Italy after his spell with the Blades, Fiorentina promptly sold him to Serie B club Ascoli. He was now entering the phase of becoming a forgotten talent, a ‘whatever happened to…?’ type of player.

In truth Lupoli’s spell at Ascoli was probably the most productive of his career to date, yet it was still nowhere near the magical displays of his youth in which he’d make defence after defence look amateurish.

Two years at Ascoli was followed by two years at fellow Serie B strugglers Grosseto. With the Grifone’s relegation at the end of the 2012/13 season Arturo was snapped up by Varese. Over the course of the first half of the season with his new club Lupoli only made five appearances for the Leopardi.

Then, in January 2014, came probably the most bizarre move of his career to date. A four game sojourn to Hungary and Budapest Honved. The reasoning behind the move is something only Arturo will ever know, but it was another blotch on his career copy book.

This current season Lupoli returned to Varese and despite the team’s disastrous league form he has proceeded to have his best season, scoring a goal every three matches for the Lombardy outfit.

His performances were to such a standard that they caught the eye of Frosinone who signed him in January. Since then he has found game time harder to come by with the Canarini, who have recently secured promotion to Serie A for the first time in clubs history.

If Lupoli remains on the books of Frosinone, like the Lazio based club it will be the striker’s first Serie A campaign. Over 10-years after leaving Parma with the world seemingly at his feet Lupoli may finally get his shot at Italy’s big time.

A career that has taken him to England and back, like many great Italian’s before him, it may finally be about to bear fruit for Italy’s forgotten attacking Prodigy.

Words by Kevin Nolan: @KevinNolan11