Photo: Ben Harrison-Hyde / flickr.com/photos/bjhhphotography

The man with one of the most exotic names you’ll find anywhere in the domestic game, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo’s foray into the National League South cut and thrust in recent times has actually marked a welcome return home for the north Londoner. Having trodden the boards of academy and college soccer across the Atlantic, the 23-year-old former Hungerford Town and East Thurrock United man has been impressing at Hampton & Richmond Borough this season.

Joining Gary McCann’s team in the summer, the marksman has got himself into double figures, making a strong impression too with his unerring endeavour. Together with some of his counterparts, he has been going above and beyond each week to unlock that fabled ‘extra few percent.’ With his side currently rounding off the division’s top ten, Danilo is doubly determined to help the Beavers bridge that gap when the season’s end comes knocking. Here’s a whole lot more about the greatest Orsi-Dadomo in English football (any contenders to that title, feel free to email in)…

 

A few months now at Hampton & Richmond, how would you sum it up so far?

I think to begin with, we got off to a tough start to the season. We had a lot of new boys come in and it took a bit of time for everyone to gel and to get everyone singing off the same hymn sheet, shall we say? To be fair, the gaffer brought some good signings in, in October, and kind of from there we’ve been able to push on and go on a bit of a run. So since the summer, it’s been a bit of an up-and-down, rollercoaster ride, but at the moment, we’re on a bit of a high and we’re going in the right direction.

What about your own form, how satisfied have you been? Obviously right amongst the goals, but overall?

Yeah, I’ve been quite happy. I’ve got 11 so far this season. Obviously, when you lose a few games at the start of the season you start to think ‘oh, it’s gonna be one of them years.’ I was at Hungerford last year and we stayed up on the last day of the season, so I was thinking ‘oh no, please, I don’t want it to be another season like that!’ Thankfully, we’ve managed to turn it around and I’ve been able to contribute quite a few goals so far, so I’m just hoping we can have a good run-in. Obviously do well for myself towards the end of the season, but as a team, push on and hopefully make the play-offs.

No doubt you’ll have been asked about it before, but in case anyone’s wondering, what is the heritage in your family, with your surname? Is it Enfield as well where you’ve grown up?

Half-Italian, half-English, but to be fair, I’ve got a bit of Scottish in me as well! Yeah, so I grew up in Enfield/Barnet area. Born there, grew up there, and then when I was 18, I went over to America, played academy football out there and then was lucky enough to go to college. I had a great college experience but kind of thought ‘do you know what? I wanna come back and try and follow in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy and people who’ve gone from non-league and worked their way up.’

On the subject of that time at Eastern Florida State (College), how did that come about?

I was out there playing Under-19 football, and then I played for Fort Lauderdale with the Under-23s, and Oliver Twelvetrees at Eastern Florida approached me. He said ‘I’ve got a good program here, we wanna make you part of it and I want you to come here and break the goalscoring records that we’ve got.’ The facilities out there are second to none, to be fair, so it was an easy decision. I went there and wanted to prove what he thought was the future for me, and thankfully I was able to do it. To be honest, though, I wanted to be back home, I wanted to play English football; it’s where I’ve been brought up and it’s what I’m used to.

What were you studying alongside playing?

I was studying my degree in business management.

Is that area one you’ve got a genuine interest in and may pursue in the future, or more so just a worthwhile background thing to have?

Yeah, it’s something I’ll probably come back to in the future. It’s always a good idea to set yourself up for something after football as well. It’s something that I felt I could take into the sport side, and if I want to do something outside of sport, it’s also transferable there.

You mentioned the desire to come back over here, but was there any thought as well of ‘I can play in the USL’ or ‘I can maybe pursue a future in MLS long-term’?

I had a few offers going into my final year out there to possibly go on and play at a high level out there, but for me it was the attraction of playing back at home, being close to my family again and kind of pushing on over here. I thought it’s maybe something I can revisit, going back to America when I’m a bit older, because I’ve had a taste of it and I know what it’s like to be out there.

A last little thing on college, what did it do for you, being there? Not even really from a football perspective, just your overall outlook?

I think it gave me a bit of a different outlook on the world. I wasn’t just looking at Barnet, Enfield, like your local areas any more, I was out there travelling and that was the other good thing. You got to go to other places, so we did pre-season in New York one year, we went to Kansas as well, Georgia, St. Louis. Travelling around and seeing different parts of America, meeting different people, having to adapt because of obviously living away from your family. It was something I thrived under and I really enjoyed it. I’d love to do it again and I’d recommend it to any boys here who are thinking about doing it.

Actually come to think of it, this is the last question on college! Did you have an initiation to do?

Yeah, to be fair, it was pretty much the same as over here, because Oliver Twelvetrees, he’s from Wales, and it was just a singing one. I’m a bit tone-deaf, people tell me, so my singing’s not the best, but it’s all a good laugh and brings the boys closer together. I wanna say the song was ‘Ain’t Nobody’ (Rufus and Chaka Khan) – to be honest, I think it was just because it was on the karaoke machine, so I thought I’d just go with it!

Back to Hampton & Richmond, in terms of the club itself, what has impressed you?

The people behind the scenes who run it are just really, really good people who just kind of want everyone to succeed. Everyone’s pushing in the same direction. Obviously they haven’t got the biggest budget in the league, but I feel like that brings everyone closer together and helps make it almost a family-run club, where anyone who works or plays for the club becomes one of the family members, and everyone looks out for each other.

Has there been a standout enjoyable memory for you personally this season?

I think the game so far would be the one against Wealdstone. Beating them 2-0 at home, I scored the first one that game but I think it was more that everyone probably wrote us off before; obviously Wealdstone were flying in the league. To turn them over in our own home, I think it pushed us back into the top half of the table and kind of really made a statement to everyone else in the league about what we’re possibly capable of; ‘we’re here and we wanna push on.’

How does the manager like to work? Is he more about encouragement? Can he lose it as well sometimes?

I’ve got a lot of time for Garry; I think he’s a really nice guy as well. I think every manager loses it at some point. There’s probably performances we’ve put in, thinking back to it, Oxford City in the FA Cup was nowhere near the levels, and he’s got a right to lose it with us. At the same time, his man-management skills are second to none really, and probably the best I’ve worked under.

At Hampton & Richmond, or anywhere else you’ve been, tell me about some of the standout characters you’ve been around.

I’m gonna say so far, probably Dean Inman at Hampton, centre-half. Obviously he’s had a good career and he’s been about, and when he first came into the changing room, I didn’t know what he was gonna be like, but a really funny guy and really good lad. I’d also say Ryan Hill, who I play up front with; he’s something else, to be honest with you. We get on really well and we’ve created a good partnership so far this season. Away from Hampton, I’d even say Ian Herring at Hungerford. I obviously had him as manager, but also as player-manager, when I first went there. I’ve got a lot of time for him. He’s a really nice fella and I think what he’s doing over there is really impressive with what he’s got to work with. I wish him all the best this season.

And on the other side of that, what sort of personality would you describe yourself as?

I think I’m really easy to talk to and outgoing. Everyone always says I’ve got a smile on my face, and I always try to find the brighter side of every situation, and just meet as many people as I can and get to know them. I think that’s also the fact of going over to America, and just the way they are out there; so friendly and so happy about everything. I try to use a bit of that and bring it back here, and kind of just make myself a better person.

You’ve said before the player was Dennis Bergkamp, so that probably answers it, but growing up, who were your team?

Yeah, Arsenal. My whole family supported them so I didn’t really have a choice for who I supported! Obviously growing up watching the ‘Invincibles’ and players like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, it’s kind of what made me fall in love with football, and made me appreciate the game and wanna play it further.

What do you think gets the best out of you from a coach/manager?

I think on the whole it’s the encouragement and the positive criticism, almost. Anyone who’s telling me to do something else or trying to help me, I’m gonna listen to and take on board. I always wanna get better and see how far I can go, so I’ve got to be kind of open to whatever someone’s telling me and how they wanna improve me.

With training and games, and anything else you’re involved in, how will a typical week for you tend to go?

We obviously train Tuesday/Thursday, with the game on a Saturday, so I try and get myself in the gym, or over the park with a few of the other boys on the Monday, Wednesday and the Friday. We all want to get into full-time football, so we can’t really afford just to be training twice a week, and then having to make that step up is big. So we try and get together with a few of the other boys who play non-league, just have a little kickabout and try and work on a few things.

Finally, what else takes your interest and takes up your time away from football?

I love a documentary on Netflix, to tell you the truth; the serial killers, whodunnit, all that sort of stuff! Also just spending time with the family. Obviously being Italian, everyone knows Italian culture, everyone’s close. It’s a big family, everyone gets together for food and stuff like that, so I just look to enjoy those moments being back here, having missed out on it for almost three-and-a-half years. I just try and make the most of it now.

Interview by @chris_brookes

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