World of choice for Sam

TOUGH CHOICE: Griffith's Sam Trimboli is torn between supporting Australia and Italy.

TOUGH CHOICE: Griffith's Sam Trimboli is torn between supporting Australia and Italy.

SAM Trimboli could possibly be the biggest football fan in all of the Riverina.

The Griffith resident -  who worships Italian powerhouse Juventus and said his favourite player was Roberto Baggio -  is torn between our Socceroos and his native Azzurri every four years when the FIFA World Cup comes around.

"The World Cup always brings everyone together. Being a fan, I love linking up with other cultures," he said.

His passion can bring a smile to many a face as soon as you walk through the door of his delicatessen, La Piccola Grosseria.

A shrine to Juventus is one of the main features, and the walls are covered with a vivid collage of past Italian soccer glories. He describes it as his own "Little piece of Italy".

For Sam, the World Cup is always a time of great celebration. He recalls regularly gathering with family and friends during the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa. All kinds of horns and vuvuzelas would blast at anytime of the night as his band of football faithful would stay up to watch all of the Italian and Australian games.

Sam knew he was a die-hard football fanatic from a very early age when the Italians made the 1994 World Cup final to take on football's awoken giant, Brazil, which featured a hugely talented 17-year-old named Ronaldo.

Normal time ended in a 0-0 draw. Fate would then have it that Sam's football idol, Baggio would miss a crucial shot in the penalty shoot-out and Brazil would go on to win 3-2.

"I couldn't go to school for two weeks. I was so devastated," he said.

"That is how I first knew I was such a massive football fan because I was so emotional about it."

Sam said Italy is still his number one side, mostly because Australia could never quite reach the heights of the World Cup when he was growing up.

"Football is new in Australia, it's still so raw. It's their number one sport in Italy. In Australia, league and AFL dominate, but soccer is finally making in-roads," he said.

He had a big problem in 2006, though, when his Italians finally did meet the Socceroos. A faulty challenge by Australian Lionheart, Lucas Neill, saw Fabio Grosso perform a routine that would make Matthew Mitcham proud. The 94th minute penalty ended Australia's unreal World Cup ride.

"I was split. During the game I didn't know what to do. I was happy Australia got so far," said Sam.

Sam hopes to take time off work this month to watch as much of the play as possible. Rest assured he will be tuning in to every Italian and Australian game.

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