Raffaele De Vita: Achieving Dreams Part One
Raffaele De Vita: Achieving Dreams Part One

Raffaele De Vita: Achieving Dreams Part One

Moving From Rome To Blackburn

Becoming a professional footballer is a challenge in itself but achieving a childhood dream is something that requires hard work, belief and determination.

Starting out as a youth player in his home city of Rome, Raffaele grew up idolising Paolo Di Canio and supporting Lazio before beginning his dream of becoming a professional football player when he signed for Blackburn Rovers in July 2003 at just 16 years old.

Moving abroad at such a young age is never easy and it took him some time to adjust to the new lifestyle he was facing in Lancashire.

“It was completely different, obviously the physicality of the game was a different level not just watching the first team but the youth teams as well.”

“In Italy the training was a bit more tactical and relaxed, you don’t really kick each other in games but in England every training session is flat out and the intensity is very high so I kind of struggled to get used to that at the start because I was playing against kids that were my age but a lot stronger physically.”

Making His Professional Debut

Like many young players, Raffaele had come to the end of his time as a youth player and was now looking to make his mark in the first-team. After spending more than 4 years in the Blackburn Rovers Youth Academy, he felt it had come time to gain first-team experience and made his move to Scottish First Division side Livingston FC when he was 21.

Even though Raffaele was looking for regular first-team football with the West Lothian side, there was some difficulties adjusting to the new setup, having being used to Premier League academy standards.

“It was a bit strange at the start because I’d went from playing with the youth team at Blackburn, which at the time was probably one of the best academy’s in the country, to playing for a relatively small club in comparison.

At Blackburn everything was done for you, the facilities were like a 5 star hotel. The food was top class, the gym was brand new, the pitches were unbelievable and the game on Saturdays meant everything to everyone, which is a big difference because you start feeling the pressure.”

Raffaele De Vita celebrates after scoring for Livingston

Having missed the first-half of the 2008/2009 season with a cruciate injury, Raffaele had to be patient before he could begin to make his mark and got his chance when he returned to help the club end the season strongly, finishing in 7th place. Unfortunately the club went into administration that summer and relegated to the Scottish Third Division ahead of the 2009/2010 campaign.

Looking to rebuild and move back up the leagues, Gary Bollan was appointed manager on August 14th , 2009 replacing Paul Hegarty as manager and under his tenure, Raffaele became a key part of the success Gary Bollan had in his spell as manager.

Raffaele went on to make made 76 appearances over three seasons with the club and achieved back-to-back promotions in 2009/10 and 2010/11, helping Livingston return to the Scottish First Division before leaving in the summer of 2011.

Livingston Career: 2008 – 2011

Appearances

Goals

League Titles

From Champion in Scotland to Champion in England

After spending three years at Livingston with the club back in the First Division, Raffaele moved south to join Swindon Town in the summer of 2011, signing a 2 year deal with the club.

He believed it was too good an opportunity to turn down and his boyhood dream was achieved when his footballing idol, Paulo Di Canio was appointed manager shortly after his arrival at the club.

Making his debut under Di Canio on the 6th August 2011 in his first competitive match in charge, Swindon ran out 3-0 winners against Crewe Alexandra. Raffaele scored his first goal for the club towards the end of the month in a 1-0 victory against Championship side Bristol City and his first league goal for the club came a month later in a 4-0 win over Barnet. A major highlight of De Vita’s career came under Di Canio when he helped them achieve promotion to League One playing at the iconic Wembley stadium and then earning a 4thplace finish the following season.

Raffaele De Vita in action for Swindon Town

Playing in the second leg of the semi-final against Brentford looking for promotion to the championship, ‘The Robins’ narrowly fell at the final hurdle losing 5-4 on penalties after the tie finished 4-4 on aggregate.

“When I joined, they hadn’t even appointed Di Canio, so it was actually by chance that he ended up being my manager but obviously when I found out he was appointed I just couldn’t believe it.”

“It was his first job in English Football as a manager and with so many clubs in England, I end up at the one where he is the manager. It was surreal the whole time because he was my hero and I grew up watching his clips, his goals and stuff, so even at the end of the 2 years when he was talking to the lads or doing team talks it was still incredible. I had to pinch myself a few times and I could not believe it was really happening. We got promotion, we went to Wembley and unfortunately, we missed out on promotion to the championship by getting knocked out on penalties.”

Swindon Town Career: 2011 – 2013

Appearances

Goals

League Titles