Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks):
Gianluca Lapadula is well and truly living out his dream having recently scored his first goal for Milan and receiving a call up to the Italy squad. Lapadula is still quite young at 26 but his road to the elite level of professional football has been a difficult one. His story is similar to that of Jamie Vardy's, Lapadula through his sheer hard work, determination and his never say die attitude has finally reached the top. However, unlike Vardy who has fulfilled his potential, Lapadula still has a long way to go and a lot more goals to score. His first goal for Milan and call up to the Italy team represent a new beginning for him and offer him new challenges. Hopefully the man known as LapaGol can begin to score regularly for Milan and become a permanent fixture in the Italy team. Before speculating about his future however let's take a look at his inspiring journey to reach the top.
Lapadula was born in Turin to an Italian father and a Peruvian mother. Gianluca began his career in 2004 with Juventus before being released, as he wasn't achieving good grades in his studies. However, Lapadula didn’t let this break him and kept trying to find the right club for him. After being released by Juventus he floated around many different teams for three years before arriving at Ivrea in 2008. Good performances there earned him a move to Parma where he spent one year with the Primavera reserve team. After multiple loans the most successful one being at Ravenna, Lapadula was bought by Cesena in a co-ownership deal. However at Cesena he faced another setback failing to feature regularly for the first team and he never really got a chance to perform. Cesena and Parma resolved the co-ownership and Lapadula was sent back to Parma who would loan him out once again. However this time things would start to pick up for Lapadula.
During the 2013-14 season Lapadula was loaned to Slovenian side ND Gorica along with a number of other Parma players. At ND Gorica regular game time allowed him to prosper and grow as a player. He scored 11 goals in 28 games for the Slovenian side and after his loan spell ended he was wanted by many Serie C sides. Teramo won the battle to attain his services on loan from Parma and Lapadula flourished with the Serie C side. He scored 21 goals in 38 games and Teramo would have been promoted to Serie B had they not been involved in a match fixing scandal. Lapadula could have given up or resigned himself to playing in the lower leagues but he kept pushing. At Teramo not only were his goals impressive but his work ethic on the pitch was fantastic. At the end of the season Parma went bankrupt and he was released on a free. Lapadula was signed by Pescara and he ended up being arguably the most influential free transfer in Italian football that season.
At Pescara, Lapadula would become known as Lapagol and under Massimo's Oddo's guidance the electric forward scored 30 goals in 43 games. None of those goals were penalties either and he was finished as top scorer in Serie B. He was now wanted by nearly every team in Serie A and also wanted by the Peru national team whom he politely declined as he considered himself Italian. After much speculation about his future LapaGol finally chose Milan as his next destination and this would complete his dream of playing in Serie A. After almost 10 years of hard work and determination he had finally arrived in Serie A. Lapadula himself described the move as a dream come true and despite first team opportunities being limited his recent winner against Palermo, a fantastic backheel, might earn him a starting berth in the derby. This would give Lapadula a chance to go on a goal-scoring run and given that Carlos Bacca hasn't scored in 5 games many will argue that he should be given that chance.
A recent surprise Italy call up is another fantastic achievement for Lapadula and makes his story even more inspiring. Lapadula's long road to the top hasn't been easy but it's certainly inspiring for many youngsters and shows that dreams don't work unless you do.