The Italian Serie A continues to hold claim to be one of the best leagues in the world, but it’s the second division in Italy that is the breeding ground of a lot of youngsters that make it through to play for many of Europe’s top divisions.
Take the respective cases of Stephan El-Shaarawy – who made quite an impact at Padova back in 2011; or that of Marco Verratti, Ciro Immobile or Lorenzo Insigne, who captured the eyes of many big clubs during their respective stays at Pescara around 2012.
Serie B has seen a lot of players come through it and then go on to achieve bigger things.
Another one of those players, who is increasingly being tipped for achieving greater things in the future is Virtus Entella’s Czech Republic youngster Jan Havlena.
Currently 18, Havlena has previously endured a tough spell at struggling Parma, but ended up moving to the Serie B side Entella.
An injury has derailed the midfielder’s progress in the short term, but he vows to come back strong, and I recently caught up with the youngster.
How is the style of football in Italy different to that in the Czech Republic?
For a guy like me, who came from a little Club (Náchod), the difference is very big. Italian football is more tactical with a lot of one on one situations. Back in my home country, there are too many slow combination attacks and it’s not physical.
Being a footballer, what motivates you into keep on going?
As small kid I had a dream to become a professional football player, play big games against strong teams and opponents. And that has always been my motivation – live my dream.
How hard was it to leave a club as prominent as Parma for a lesser one like Entella?
I don’t think that Entella is a smaller club than Parma. Because Parma is now playing in Lega Pro and Entella in one league up, so for me it was a good step to come here. It’s a very familiar club and I feel good and that’s the most important thing
You left your home country for Italy at a young age. How did it feel?
There were a lot of feelings. During the early day, I missed my family and my friends who I had left behind in ČR. Maybe I was a little bit disappointed because I didn’t understand anything, but I was also overwhelmed by the new experience, culture and football achievements.
It was a cultural shock, to be honest.
What do you think is your best position on your pitch?
One hundred percent not in defence! I am one of the offensive players, so I would say a central or wide midfielder, who is decisive when it comes to a cross, pass or shot on goal.
What hardships and struggles have you been through during your journey as a football player?
There were two ‘problems’ that I encountered during my football journey. The first one was that I had to wait for around eight months for receiving my official documents required for playing in Italy.
During that time, I lost more than half a season of my career. And the second one is injuries.
Five years ago I underwent my first surgery in my knee and in November 2016, I got injured again. And after some complications, I sustained another one in April, which was the third one.
Due to this, it can be said that I haven’t been a very lucky player, but I need to stay positive and believe that all will be okay.
Which club do you dream of playing for? And which player has been a role model for you?
If I end up staying in Italy, then it’s Juventus or a team from Milan, either AC or Inter. But, I know that it’s hard to go straight to a club like that, so first I will prefer some smaller team, for example Genoa or Sampdoria.
I’ve never had a single role model. I aim to learn from all the players that I know or meet.
Who is taking care of your career and what’s your relationship with them?
His name is Martin Koiš and he is my agent, who cooperates with football scout Massimo Tanzillo. And my relationship with him ? We are a good friends, maybe one of the reasons is that he isn’t to much older, so he can help me with a lot of little problems that I come across.
With Entella now having offered you a professional contract, how long do you want to play there?
For a young player like me it’s a perfect club. It’s where I can receive a lot of experience from matches of Serie B. I don’t think about this ‘how much time or how many seasons’.
If the club will be happy with my progress and for my career, it will be good. I want to stay here as long as possible.