Atleti Polimi - Riccardo Goffi
Interview with the footballer and Civil Engineering student at the Politecnico di Milano
For our new appointment with Polimi athletes, this time we met Riccardo Goffi, footballer. Born in Milan, he is 20 and in his first year of Civil Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.
Riccardo plays for Inter Primavera, the team with which he has just won the 2021-2022 Scudetto.
We asked him a few questions to get to know him better.
Hi Riccardo. How did it all start with your love of football?
To be honest, I don't remember a “before”. It’s always been this way, since very early on when I was still very small. From the very beginning, when I was playing with a ball, I didn't like hitting it with my hands, it didn't even cross my mind. My only aim was to try to kick the ball and send it as far as possible.
The first word I said was “a Pa”. Obviously, my father got excited, thinking that I was referring to him and that I was calling him (papà). But actually, I was trying to say the name of my great love: the ball (palla in Italian).
Which footballers or sports people inspire you?
Luis Suarez has always been my idol since I was a child. What a player! When I watch his matches, I try to observe him, to “steal” his movements, his shots, his vision of the game. I think he is one of the best strikers out there.
Of the matches you have been involved in, which one was the most exciting?
The most exciting match of my career so far was the under 16 championship final between Juventus and Inter. The year before, they had beaten us 2-0 in the final and this was our chance for revenge. We had a really large squad; I didn’t play in that game but the great thing about team sports is exactly that: even though I didn’t take part directly, I had this indescribable feeling and when we managed to win the match and the championship...it's beyond words, I was on cloud nine!
What do you think has been your greatest sporting success?
I think I achieved my greatest personal sporting success came during the second of two years on loan, when I moved to Monza from Inter. I managed to get noticed by Brocchi who was the first team coach at the time. After several good training sessions, I got my first appearance in Serie C. It was completely different with the “big boys”: for them it was their job, and I was struck by the passion they put into it.
What does sport mean to you? Do you think it has taught you something about other areas of life too?
Sport means everything to me. It has always held a crucial place for me; it's the starting point for all of my decisions.
I have always had lots of training sessions each week, but the great thing is that as the years go by, my passion never fades; in fact my desire to improve keeps on growing. Sport, and in particular a team sport like football in this case, definitely helps you to be part of a group, to think with the minds of 20 guys and not just your own. It teaches you to win and celebrate, to lose and pick yourself up, to learn, to suffer and to put your heart into it.
So, when they tell you “football is just a sport”, it's not true. Football, like sport in general, is much, much more.
Why have you chosen to study Civil Engineering? Why at the Politecnico di Milano specifically?
At secondary school, mathematics and physics were the subjects that I liked the most and that I did best in. When I started to think about combining football and studying engineering, everyone thought I was crazy. But who knows? Maybe I’ll get some good results, hopefully in both fields.
I chose the Politecnico because I believe it is currently the strongest university for engineering. I can't deny that my decision was also made on the basis of where I live and train now. There are people that spend a fortune to move to Milan in order to study here, while I have the good fortune of having been born here.
I take it that you like living in your home city...
Milan is fantastic. There is a different Milan for each season. You go from Milan at Christmas, full of decorations everywhere, to Milan in summer when you go around in a t-shirt and shorts.
I love everything about my city; it provides incredible opportunities despite the problems you get in large cities. It’s cosmopolitan, vibrant, continental enough but north-facing so you don’t lose what Europe offers to those who want to keep up to speed. And, since a few years ago, it's also become really beautiful!
Are you glad you chose the Politecnico?
So far, I have to say that I'm really happy. I like the subjects that I’m studying, and I like the other students on my course, which you can’t always take for granted. So, for now, I’m really pleased with everything.
How do you manage to balance training and studying?
It isn’t easy; sometimes you can feel a bit discouraged. You don’t have much time to go out with friends. You can't ever allow yourself to waste time: every free moment has to be “filled”, used. The aim is to “waste” as little time as possible. Obviously, this means sometimes having to study on the bus when travelling to away games, during waiting times or during the down time that the coach allows us, which isn't something that everybody is willing to accept.
But I believe you need to make sacrifices if you want to achieve your dreams. Many of my teammates had to leave home at a young age; I was lucky that I didn't have to do that.
In what ways is the Dual Career programme helping you?
I'm doing my first year so, for now, I haven't had chance to take advantage of the programme; however, I believe there will be a time when I can’t be there to sit at an exam because of a sports event and I’ll be forced to ask to change the date.
What advice would you give to an athlete who doesn't know whether or not to go to university?
Obviously, my advice would be to do it. Never throw in the towel, especially before you have even tried.
Since I was a kid, I have dreamt of becoming a footballer: there's no point in denying it, it's nothing new. Lots of people have this same dream but fortunately I have also always been aware of the fact that, of the many that pursue this dream, only a few make it and often because of reasons that are outside of their control. The advice I would give would be to try your hardest at sport, but also to continue studying so you don't end up shutting any doors and regretting it in future.
I also believe that the world of football has to grow, and this means not only being footballers, but also more complete individuals capable of dealing with different situations. And education definitely helps.
What are your passions outside of football? Do you find time for your private life too?
Fortunately, I can say I have always had good organisational skills. I have always managed to organise my activities and waste as little time as possible in order to carve out some time for my private life. It was probably competitive and professional sport that helped me with this. At Inter, when I was a kid, the game was fun, but it was always disciplined and strict.
I don’t have any real hobbies outside of football. Of course, I like to go out and enjoy myself with my friends and spend time with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time for anything else.
What are your goals and dreams for the future?
My goals for the future are very clear.
From a sports perspective, obviously the dream is to get into the first team and compete at a high level. The dream would be to achieve that, perhaps after finishing my studies. A footballing engineer wouldn’t be bad, right?
To find out about the Dual Career programme, which helps our students who practise sport at the highest level to pursue both their sporting and educational activities with confidence and success, visit the Polimi Sport website.