He might have to sit tight for a while as the nation, and English football, deals with the pandemic that has put normality on pause, but Massimo Giamattei can’t wait to get his senior career started after receiving his first professional contract at Swindon Town.
Alongside Toby Holland and Anthony Cheshire, Mass’ outstanding showings in Dave Farrell’s under-18s side will see him line up alongside Richie Wellens’ first-team whenever football for League One and Two sides return.
Giamattei has been a huge part of a talented under-18s side that, pre-abandonment of the Academy Games Programme, were gathering momentum in their Merit League campaign.
For each of the three scholars, the reward of a professional contract is the fruit of many years of hard work as well as a hugely positive season with the senior youth side at the club.
swindontownfc.co.uk sat down with each of the trio to get to know their story so far.
Mass – congratulations on your first professional deal. Let’s go back to the start – when did you first join the Swindon academy?
Thanks! Before I was at Swindon, I was at Reading from about the age of six. At about under-11 age, I snapped my cartilage in my knee, and I was out injured for 18 months. When I went back at about 13, Reading basically chucked me to the side and had brought in a load of new players.
My brother, Paolo was at Swindon at the time in the under-16s and I got offered a trial. It was the summer of the under-14s, I came down and I was signed within about three weeks. I’ve been at the club since then.
What were the major differences between the two, would you say?
It’s a completely different atmosphere to what it was like at my previous academy. Reading was so business-like whereas Swindon is a family. I can’t fault any of the coaches at Swindon because it’s so enjoyable to train and be around the club compared to before.
In the under-18s we had Dave Farrell and Macca (Alan McLoughlin) – that’s a massive part in your development. I enjoyed it so much because I was able to be myself and it’s a culture where if you put in the effort, you have a fair chance at the rewards.
And before the abandonment of the under-18s season, you and the 18s were in really good form?
I think we went 12 games unbeaten midway through this season. We never had a set formation early on but we switched it to a 3-5-2 and that’s when the results started to come in.
That just made the whole team click. The attitude in the changing room was brilliant. Everything was going right.
And you were a part of quite a few first-team competitions, as well as a the reserve competitions>
That was one of the biggest boosts in my confidence - the FA Cup game at Cheltenham. Macca gave me a call to tell me that I was going and I was just so excited. When you look at first-team players, you think they might make it a bit difficult for you because you’re competition now, sort of thing.
I didn’t get any of that – the boys were so welcoming. Jordan Lyden and Tom Broadbent came over and the conversation was really flowing. They were so welcoming. Even in the warm-ups, we didn’t get any grief – that built up so much confidence that we really felt we could do anything.
And how much are you looking forward to being a part of it full-time?
I can’t wait to get started. Having that accolade next to you, that you’re a professional footballer, it’s a dream, isn’t it? I’ve been excited since I got the call. My brother’s tried to make it, as well as my Dad and they haven’t been able to get this far.
And is there anyone you’d like to thank after reaching this point?
Just to be able to do it for the family is brilliant. I have to thank my Mum and Dad, because of the travelling especially, it wouldn’t have been possible without them. My brother has always provided competition. I wouldn’t be in this situation without my Nan, my Grandad, my uncles as well– they’ve all put in time.
The coaches too – over the years have got me to this point so I just want to thank all of them.