Forward | Torino | Moldova
Moldova isn’t a traditional hotbed of footballing talent. A landlocked domain between Romania and Ukraine, the Eastern European nation’s international side has not enjoyed the successes had by their neighbours. With no Gheorghe Hagi or Andriy Shevchenko to act as a flame-bearer, and without having ever qualified for a World Cup or European Championships tournament, Moldovan football is utterly unknown territory to most.
The mystique of Moldovan football is such, that a decade-or-so ago, when The Times, Goal and When Saturday Comes referenced Moldovan teenage prodigy Masal Bugduv as a star of the future, it was a while before anyone realised he didn’t actually exist. Turns out, Bugduv was the creation of online bloggers, who were presumably just having a laugh.
Now, though, Moldova has a - crucially, non-fictitious - talent to get really excited about. Currently on the books with Serie A side Torino, Vitalie Damascan bears all the hallmarks of a born goalscorer.
His instinctive, natural ability to find space in the box is impossible not to appreciate, whilst his calm, measured finishing is so impressive. There is, of course, plenty of work to be done on his game. He needs to bulk up and prove himself at a much higher level of the game than he has hitherto experienced. The teenager’s confidence, movement and pace already make him a real handful though, and his off-the-shoulder-of-the-last-man style is a joy to watch.
2018 has been…
…an exciting time for the young poacher.
Having been snapped up by Torino in January, Damascan spent the first half of the year in his homeland, on loan with perennial Moldovan champions and the club who initially sold him to the Italian outfit, Sheriff Tiraspol.
The striker was a regular for the Wasps, and a reliable goalscorer. He also took strides in his creative game this year, registering four assists in his stint with Sheriff.
What’s more, Damascan also made his debut for the senior national team in January, featuring from the start in a friendly clash with South Korea. In total, the youngster racked up nine caps in 2018, and scored his first goal in his country’s colours in their Nations League victory over San Marino.
Damascan joined up with his parent club in Turin ahead of the 2018/19 Serie A campaign. Whilst he is yet to make his debut for Il Toro, he is a regular presence on Walter Mazzarri’s bench, and has impressed in his outings for the club’s academy side.
Damascan can only prove his quality, and make good on his potential, by breaking into the Torino first team. His goal for 2019 must be to force his way into Mazzarri’s plans.
With the likes of Andrea Belotti, Simone Zaza and Iago Falque ahead of him in the pecking order at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, this is no small ask. At least making his bow for the club would be a start though.
We can’t help but hope he makes it, and is able to shine in the upper echelons of the European game. Moldovan football has held out long enough, they need a hero now.