Thanks for the article Emanuele Forlivesi and Kim International Magazine
May 24, 2020, we are European champions at Pes2020. The Italian national e-football team wins the final against Serbia with Nicola, Carmine, Alfonso and Rosario. A goal by Lorenzo Insigne at the end gives us the first virtual European organized by UEFA.
With all of Italy in lockdown, the emotions of e-National they have detonated attention on the whole world of e-sports, video games played on a competitive and professional level.
In recent years the phenomenon e-sports has established itself all over the world, today also in Italy it is getting great results, with new fans and new athletes, without forgetting i sporting and business values. Italian football now boasts e-football teams in every category up to the maximum recognition with the e-National representative.
Il Covid-19, causing the suspension of the leagues throughout Europe, has given further importance to electronic football which culminated precisely with the victory of Euro 2020 in Pes. We got excited again with football thanks to the digital national team and nobody will leave her anymore. We have truly and finally become e-fans and e-fans.
So we interviewed Nicola Lillo, Alias Coach Nicaldan, the captain of the e-National Champion of Europe, to tell the story sports, social and psychological transformation of our football in the most complex and uncertain moment for the whole country.
To know and bring back the sensations, the fears, the new goals of the new ones virtual athletes; reflecting on the values of football to bring it to the next future. Because football is part of us Italians, fans and non-fans; because today those many non-athletic kids, from their rooms they can dream, without knowing how to kick a ball, to win a World Cup in the national team.
The interview with Coach Nicaldan
In life you are a cardiology technician, you are married and ... What is your story?
«At 20 I started my e-sport career at Comicon in Naples, there were thousands of members and I was there by pure chance. I signed up and finished second, as a novice. Then I cultivated my passion by continuing my life regularly. Born in 1986, today I am 34 years old and I am European Champion ».
From Pes 2006 to today you have been a pioneer and visionary, were you hoping for the success of e-sports?
"I've always hoped that this world started to explode; at some point it was only played online and I had lost hope. Then the national team arrived and I decided to take the field ».
But what did your parents, your friends say to you when you carried on this passion?
«They tended to dampen a bit, despite this they always supported me when I was traveling around Italy. A bit like when you go to play soccer with friends. Then to Coverciano it was already a success. My family believed even more in this world.
My wife he believed it, even before the wedding. He never said "what are you doing? Play games. " We played with her every now and then. A nice challenge? Certainly, but the European ones are more difficult. The priorities for me were: to study first, according to the job and then realizing one's passion ... something that helps with the rest. I consider this passion as the football of a normal boy but with an online world and the many friendships he has brought. In the e-sport world you can meet people from all over Italy, if I go to Rome I go to have a coffee with one of my friends known like this. This is the most important thing".
From electronic football to football on the pitch. Have you ever played? What is your relationship with football?
«I played central defender as a boy, I also remember the school tournaments in which I participated. Then I saw thousands and thousands of games and all this I try to bring it into the video game ».
You are not only Nicaldan, you are Nicaldan coach. Because? What does it mean to train at e-football?
«I am also a Coach for age, as a reference for young people. The figure of the coach abroad was frequent and important, a fascinating figure, so much so that the players always participated in tournaments with their coaches. In the national team my three companions have elected me captain and coach. I am one of the first in Italy, because these are professional figures who are being born here ».
What does it mean to be part of an e-sports team today?
«It is used to have communication strength, let's think about social networks how important they are. They are also fundamental for logistical, technical and psychological support. There are really competent people who can help you ».
In e-sports, fans can be athletes, which you can't do in real football. Positive revolution or are there also risks and illusions?
«Many think it's just a game but it doesn't work like that, it takes talent and sacrifice: there is no turning on the play and go ... This e-sports will be a dream of Generation Z.
You can see the basic talent if you win in the general rankings and then the experience and comparison with others and your friends count a lot ».
What are the main sporting values in e-football? Which is a hybrid between individual and team sport.
«The union and the group made the difference. In fact, we all played the same number of games in the European Championship, with a great desire for growth that made us become an army. Before we were not so strong, now we have become invincible, with the team spirit ».
But we also talk about business. Do you think you will come to live only with this?
«In the future maybe for e-football, certainly yes for e-sports, look at other countries. Video game culture is missing here ... »
Covid-19 with forced quarantine was certainly an ally of the electronics sector. But did this situation weigh on you during the competition? And with the football resumed are you afraid that what you have moved will return to the niches with an involution?
«We have channeled our energies well by taking advantage of the opportunity and increasing our hours of play and staying in friendship. Now after the peak there is now the leveling of the explosion, let's see how it settles. There is a lot of interest for everyone who goes around in this world. "
Technically an e-football player has no physical age limits and can play up to 60 years, but how can he always be at the top and improve?
«Already winning a European at 34 is a satisfaction, in this area the average age is much lower. You must know how to manage yourself; and putting qualitative experience into the hours of play makes the difference. The young people in their favor have speed of thought and hand. "
What would you say to guys who dream of being youtubers or gamers? And what would you say to all those parents who see the world of video games as a waste of time, a harmful addiction or an unsafe place for children?
«To the parents I say: approach the children slowly giving them the right time, together with friends and not with strangers.
To the boys: cultivate passion as a true passion because the divertissement and at the base of everything.
If my son will be a son of art? Who knows, if he wants he can. I will not choose for him ».
Pes Euro 2020
Can you tell me the emotion when you received the blue shirt in Coverciano?
«From the first day it was a dream: open the doors of Italian football, see the bag with the uniform and say" oh hell it's true, I'm right here "".
What team is that with your teammates Carmine 'Naples17x' Liuzzi, Rosario 'Npk_02' Accurso and Alfonso 'AlonsoGrayfox' Mereu?
«In three adjectives: joyful, sociable, united.
I can only thank them, they are fantastic guys with whom I shared everything as friends ».
A Sardinian and three Neapolitans, is it a coincidence or does a Neapolitan e-sports school exist?
«In the south Pes has always had great talents. Between Rome, Puglia and Naples there are great gamers. "
What were the most difficult and unforgettable moments?
«In extra time with France: I won 3-1 and then I was recovered 3-3. There I thought: "I don't know if I can do it", but you have to aim to be lucid. Then there were the penalties and the victory.
Carmine's goal in the final is unforgettable, also because otherwise I would have had to make the fifth decisive match ... ».
Do you have any particular episode to tell during, before or after the matches?
«Yes, when I won the third challenge with Serbia I hadn't cheered, Carmine enters and says" did you lose? "," I didn't win "I answer him, but I had to play the fifth and they messed up while I was concentrating. There I was really getting angry.
Then I remember i penalty shoot-out with France: the first pitch marks me central, the third is also central, and so the others told me to stay with the central goalkeeper. But we didn't believe it was no accident. For the last penalty I decide that I would remain still. He pulled me in the middle and I saved him by winning, it went well. Also thanks to everyone's advice ».
Tell us about the staff, organization and support of the FIGC. What's behind the e-National?
«An important structure, people always available. They treated us like professionals. "
When it's not your turn to play, what do you feel?
"It never goes away, you hope everything is going well with confidence."
How do you prepare such an important appointment as a European? How do you train to win it?
«I can give you some advice: play Pes in a competitive game in the dedicated section with the leveled and specialized teams.
Then try the tactics also based on the opponent, prepare solutions and experiment. You compare yourself with your teammates on players and positions such as the four of us did Zaniolo or in using the 4 in defense. This made the difference. "
You are the first national e-Sports team, there will be others. What are your next goals with the national team?
«Let's think about Euro 2021 if UEFA will organize it at the same time as the real one, to confirm us. And we know that confirming ourselves is even more difficult.
My dream is win the e-Serie A. Maybe I will have the opportunity to try soon. "
What has changed in your life after being called up to the national team and the victory of the European championship?
«In fact, you just feel proud and satisfied. Each compliment was nice and pleasant to tell a wonderful experience ».
You dedicated the victory to those who supported you day after day but above all to those who no longer believed in you ... saying: “I am fat and old, perhaps it is true; but I AM CHAMPION OF EUROPE ”. What is the story behind this dedication with an arrow?
«When I had to start my career on Pes there was distrust around me, I had many nos and many perhaps; someone rejected me for the physical aspect. I have shown that my passion and professionalism have brought me to the maximum goal. And all this dream come true I dedicate to my wife ».
Finally I managed to snatch two promises from Nicola: as soon as I have Pes he will grant me a challenge, of course he will win the best ... I certainly will not give him a central penalty.
The second promise: when his next dream comes true I will be the first to interview him.
Good luck Nicola, see you soon.