Son of former drugs officer picks Liverpool
In 1980, Loreno Dalla Valle was a 24-year-old drugs squad officer on an assignment in Venice, shadowing a suspected villain.
Fearing he might have had his cover blown, he was obliged to back off and bluff, and in St. Mark’s Square he abruptly sat down at a table occupied by a Finnish student.
It is not known whether the ruse worked on the criminal being followed, but in other respects it turned out just fine. Marketta and Loreno fell in love, moved to Northern Karelia, got married, and had three children. Lauri Dalla Valle was born on September 14th 1991 in Joensuu.
The youngster took an interest in football from an early age, first staring at the matches on TV at the age of three and then rapidly learning for himself the tricks he saw the adults performing.
His father Loreno found success in the mushroom business (see article) and ploughed some of the profits from his flourishing export trade into the Joensuu Jippo junior team he trained in his spare time.
Jippo’s D-Juniors went on a training camp in Italy and took part in tournaments there. The obviously gifted Lauri caught the eye of youth scouts with his penetrating passes and vision for the game.
Inter Milan wanted a closer look.
At the age of 14, Lauri went with his dad to Milan.
“The idea then was that I would stay in Italy”, Lauri recalls.
However, in a lucky break for Finnish football, Lauri did not adapt very well to the local school, where things were a good deal wilder than back home.
"And the language, too, was more complicated than I was used to."
Three months in Milan proved enough.
“I probably went there a bit too early for my own good. Now it feels like it was a useful experience and I have a good feeling about going to Liverpool.”
Games played in a Finland Youth side proved to be the thing that convinced the talent scouts from the big clubs.
“When we played in Ireland I scored three goals in two matches and set up a couple more. After that we started to get contacts from Italian and English clubs.”
In the autumn, Lauri chose Liverpool, who had been sniffing at his heels for around a year. The lad went to a training camp in Liverpool “to be looked at” just over a year ago.
The contract is for three and a half years and runs until 2011. Though the parties have not confirmed the signing fee and what Dalla Valle might be paid, some idea of the Merseyside club’s interest can be had from the fact that the Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry was closely involved in the negotiations.
“They have nice people there and a great coaching staff.”
Despite the large sum of money allegedly handed over, Lauri Dalla Valle has said he fully intends to go through his upper secondary school programme in four years as a correspondence student.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 8.12.2007
More on this subject:
Lauri Dalla Valle - training for personal independence
From "the field behind the church" to Anfield, perhaps
Previously in HS International Edition:
Mamma mia, what a year for the boletus mushrooms! (9.9.2003)
My Anfield, Nov. 8. 2007
Report on Football in Finland blog
Liverpool FC: The Academy