Non-league side Beverley Town have pulled off the coup of the summer by signing a former Serie A winger following a chance dog walking encounter.
Daniele Mannini made 163 appearances in the Italian top flight for the likes of Napoli and Sampdoria. Now 38, he's ended up in the Northern Counties Eastern League.
The former Italy youth international moved to England in 2020 to take up a job as a sales executive for a food ingredient supplier. He recently bumped into Beverley chairman Mark Smith – and the rest, as they say, is history.
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"I was out walking my dog when I got chatting to another dog walker," Smith told the club website. "He happened to say he played a bit of football in the past.
"I told him I was the chairman of Beverley Town and he should get down to pre-season training. Little did I know he had over 200 Serie A appearances under his belt."
Mannini hasn't played since leaving Italian third-tier side Pontedera in January 2020, but he scored a free-kick and assisted another goal in recent friendlies, and now Beverley have snapped him up for the season.
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Manager Dave Ricardo was, understandably, over the moon at the slice of good fortune. "I cannot speak highly enough of Dani's attitude and his training and dedication have been first class," he said.
"He can be a real inspiration for everyone involved at the club. It's not often you get someone who has played the amount of games Dani has done at a high level, never mind in Serie A."
Mannini played against David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his professional career. East Yorkshire will serve up a different kind of test for him when the season gets underway next month.
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