After the dust has finally settled following another frantic transfer window, there is one deal that stands out from the rest. No, it’s not Gareth Bale’s record-breaking £85.3 million transfer to Madrid. It’s 23-year-old Mark Randall’s move to Ascoli Calcio. Why? Because Randall is the only English footballer playing in Italy.
The former Chesterfield star officially signed a two-year contract with the Italian team currently adjusting to life in Seria C after being relegated last season. Despite the daunting challenge, Randall didn’t hesitate when he received the call from his management company, Richardson Mail Solicitors, informing him of the interest from abroad.
“When they told me there was interest from Italy I said ‘yes’ straight away without even thinking about it,” says Randall. “I’m really happy at the moment. I’m excited and just looking forward to getting started.”
Martin Richardson, managing director of Richardson Mail Solicitors, is hopeful this is the beginning of a successful new chapter for both Randall and Ascoli. “Ever since we started working with Mark, we’ve been impressed with his dedication and professionalism,” he said.
“He has embraced this new challenge of being the only English player in Italy and has signed for a club with a fantastic history in Italian football.”
Randall believes that more English players should consider plying their trade abroad. He said: “I’m excited about playing in Italy. I think it could be the start of something new. Maybe we will see more English players coming over.
“I think it will be good for the English game and the national team. Maybe more coaches will also come over and it might start to change the style of training in England.
“In Europe the training is more technical - they are never without the ball. I think they miss that in England. When you watch England against the bigger European teams, even the smaller teams, you can tell the opposition has been working on their technique from a young age.”
Randall, who began his career at Arsenal, was released by the Spireites in the summer. He admits that it was strange to be without a club, adding: “It was the first time it has happened to me and it wasn’t nice. It’s stressful and depressing. You’re just not a great person to be around at that time.”
But now Randall is back and excited at the prospect of playing in Italy. His main aim this season will be to help Ascoli bounce straight back after the disappointment of last year. “I’m more than happy to be joining Ascoli and to be playing football again,” he said. “I think I will adapt to the league quickly as the Italian style perfectly suits my own.
“First I need to get into the team. But I believe I can help them create a few more chances going forward. I haven’t seen much of the other teams in the division, but I think we look like a strong outfit and could hopefully aim for promotion. We will have to see.”
As for speaking the language, well, that might take some practice. “No, I don’t speak Italian (laughs). I have picked up a couple of things but I will have to take some lessons.”