One day a few months ago in Emperador, Azkals coach Thomas Dooley was taking in the UFL action action. On the pitch a tall, powerful defender caught his eye.
The American coach circled the name “Simone Rota” on the start sheet and scribbled down “good back-up,” presumably to give cover to veteran centerbacks Rob Gier and Juani Guirado. But soon after, Dooley was using Rota more than just an insurance. The Filipino-Italian was starting at right back in full international matches for the Azkals against Malaysia and Azerbaijan, then recently, against Nepal as well.
The caps were a culmination of a strange and wonderful story that began 29 years ago here in Metro Manila when a young Filipina, very much in distress, handed over her months-old baby to an Italian Franciscan nun doing charity work in the Philippines.
“He was a well-nourished baby” recalls Sister May Memorial, who saw the little Simone back then when she was still a young nun. The baby was eventually shipped over to Italy toRead More »from Azkal Simone Rota enjoys his long journey back home