Simone Pafundi, Italy’s youngest debutant in 100 years: Who is the Udinese youngster?

Roberto Mancini surprised a lot of people in Italy by handing 16-year-old Simone Pafundi his full international debut despite the youngster having just 22 minutes of first-team football under his belt at Udinese.

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Simone Pafundi became the youngest Italy debutant in a century as Roberto Mancini opted to bring the Udinese prospect off the bench for his first international appearance against Albania on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

At just 16 years and 247 days old, Pafundi was trusted by Mancini to come on and help get the Azzurri over the line to claim an away win. The decision raised eyebrows in Italy as Pafundi had, at the point of his international debut, only made one first-team appearance for Udinese. That appearance came as a substitute as the Zebrette beat Salernitana at the end of the 2021/22 Serie A season, playing 22 minutes.

He had been an important player for Udinese at Primavera level, scoring three goals and assisting six in 10 appearances in 2022/23 prior to his full international debut.

Who is Simone Pafundi?

Simone Pafundi in action for Udinese. (Photo: Getty)

Simone Pafundi is an Italy international who plays for Serie A side Udinese. He was born on March 14, 2006, just months before Italy’s last World Cup win. Pafundi was born in Monfalcone in the province of Gorizia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, between Udine and Trieste.

Pafundi’s Italy debut against Albania came as a huge surprise, and he has only made a handful of international caps at underage level. He has four goals in five Under-17 appearances, and just one cap at Under-16 level.

A creative player, Pafundi has spent most of his time on the pitch operating in attacking midfield and is someone who likes to link midfield with attack. He has also played closer to the striker or out on the right.

Udinese have a number of promising young players on their books and there is hope that Pafundi can be one of those capable of breaking into the first team. There may now be increased pressure on him to receive playing time after having made his full international debut.

Simone Pafundi on his Italy debut against Albania. (Photo: Getty)

Pafundi is not Italy’s youngest-ever player

Although Pafundi was Italy’s youngest debutant in a century, he is not the youngest-ever player to play for the Azzurri. In 1911, Pietro Antonio Gavinelli played at 16 years and 97 days old. A year earlier, Renzo De Vecchi had played at 16 years and 111 days old.

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