Davide Calabria: Fierce Warrior

At the age of 24, Calabria is in his sixth season in Milan's first team, and has lived through seven managers and three changes of ownership. One of the few Milan youth players who has managed to stay in the first team, he has fought fiercely at every turn to stay at the club. Most recently, when it seemed he would be forced out in the summer of 2019, he doubled down and made the right back position his own. His tenacity is one of his greatest strengths. He is a fierce warrior.


Fierce and fearless


Before we talk about Calabria, it is important to note that Milan have a terrible track record with youth players. Until De Sciglio came through, it had been 26 years since a player came through Milan's youth system straight to the first team, and that last player was Paolo Maldini. Almost out of necessity, because the club couldn't afford to buy new players, a number of youth players were promoted to the first team, only to be burned by so many coaching and other changes. 


His friends have all moved on

Those players included Merkel, Strasser, Albertazzi,  Simone Andrea Ganz, Plizzari, Petagna, Paloschi, Cristante, Locatelli, Cutrone, and Colombo. All gone to other teams, many of them to multiple teams since leaving. The only players who have been promoted from the youth sector and are still in the first team are Gigio Donnarumma, Calabria, and now Daniel Maldini. That Calabria has earned himself an undisputed starting spot speaks volumes about who he is and his work ethic.


Holding a trophy with the legendary Daniele Bonera in his playing days

Davide Calabria was born on the sixth of December, 1996 in Brescia, not far from Milano. At the age of nine, he entered Milan's youth system, and he has been a Milan player ever since. In January of 2015, he received his first callup to the first team, and in May of 2015, he subbed on for De Sciglio as his debut appearance for the first team under coach Pippo Inzaghi. 

In July of that year, he was officially promoted to the first team, and in September, he made his first start under coach Mihajlovic. He would go on to make six Serie A appearances that season, three starts and three substitutions. During the following season, under Montella, he made 12 league appearances, including 11 starts. Although he did not play in the Supercoppa victory over Juventus that year, he did get a medal, which he went home and hung on his Christmas tree. 

Holding Milan's singular trophy since our last Scudetto

The summer of 2017 threatened to change his career when Milan purchased Conti from Atalanta. It seemed that Calabria was doomed to go on loan or leave Milan altogether, but he refused to go, instead fighting for his spot. However, some terrible luck for Conti proved fortuitous for Calabria. Conti had an ACL injury in September, then re-injured his knee again in March, missing most of the season. Calabria went on to make 30 appearances in all competitions under first Montella, then Gattuso that season. He also scored his first goal in February of 2018.


You always remember your first 

In the 2018-19 season, under Gattuso, he would make another 30 appearances in Serie A and the Europa League, and scored his second goal for Milan as well. He was competing for time between the veteran Abate and the injury-prone Conti, who returned to the pitch in December of that year. 

Fierce even in his celebrations

It was between this season and the 2019-20 season that he again was pressured to leave the club. Fans watched painfully as Cutrone was tearfully forced out that summer, so Calabria trained that much harder and fought for his place in the squad. Instead, it was Conti that left that following January, because Calabria had become a force to be reckoned with. In 25 Serie A appearances that season, he scored another goal and saw two red cards, but still became the first choice at right back. This season, he has 35 appearances and four goals so far in all competitions.

Calabria also featured for Italy's U21 team, making 19 appearances between 2015 and 2019. He was called up to the senior team by Mancini in November, and has made two appearances so far. While he faces competition for a starting spot at this point, he is the future of Italy at the right back position.

A couple of Milan youth players representing Italy U21

Calabria began as a midfielder and was transitioned to right back as he grew in Milan's youth sector. That was convenient when Pioli had an injury crisis and had to play him as a defensive midfielder against Juve in January. He even managed to score Milan's only goal in that match. But he is best known for his current role of right back. His defensive qualities of timing, positioning, and tackling were aways evident, but his speed was also useful for pushing forward. As he has evolved, he has been able to put in more quality crosses and make more runs into the box, increasing his scoring opportunities and goal tally.


Ferocious celebrations

He is hard working and also very mature for his age. His calmness under pressure is a sharp contrast to his ferocious celebrations. He has overcome his lack of strength by simply running faster, harder, and longer than his opponents. He is a great teammate and knows what it means to be Milan, perhaps better than most, having survived so many years and changes during Milan's identity crisis.


Celebrating under the Curva

Not only is Calabria a Milan youth player, he represents the true character of Milan. Fans have watched him grow as both a player and a man. We have watched him suffer under so many changes and being nearly pushed out not just once, but twice already at his young age. Now he has become a young leader to the newer and younger players at the club. He leads by his example, relentlessly competitive and yet with the class of our Milan legends. He never likes to lose, but always holds his head high, no matter what. For both his skills that he has developed and his determination in his career and in every match, he is a fierce warrior.


This post inspired by the music of Muse's Assassin


Our next match is 
Serie A Week 29
Milan vs. Sampdoria
Saturday, April 3 • 12:30 CEST (6:30am EDT)


Davide Calabria: Fierce Warrior Davide Calabria: Fierce Warrior Reviewed by Elaine on 5:28 AM Rating: 5
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