RYAN NOLAN has moved one step closer to emulating fellow Irishmen Robbie Keane and Liam Brady by turning out for Inter Milan.
The 19-year-old defender from County Clare has been included in the Nerazzurri squad for their Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna in Austria.
First spotted by veteran scout and former Chelsea star Pierluigi Casiraghi playing in a youth tournament, Nolan signed for Inter as a 16-year-old after impressing then-manager Roberto Mancini.
Despite reported interest from Villarreal, the Irish teenager opted to join the Inter academy where the likes of Mario Balotelli and Philippe Coutinho previously progressed to the first team.
Born and raised in Shannon for the first eigh years of his life, Nolan first played for local side Park Rangers before his family emigrated to Murcia in Spain, settling in the town of Torre Pacheco.
Fluent in English, Spanish and Italian, Nolan first cut his teeth with a provincial representative Murcia team but has flourished in the youth ranks at Inter.
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter) February 13, 2019
Speaking to RTE last April, Nolan explained how he balances the demands of life at Inter with seeing friends and family in Spain and Ireland.
"In Spain training was mostly about little possession games and rondos (typically 6 v 3 matches in tight areas where players are only allowed one or two touches of the ball).
"Here there's a lot more work without the ball, more tactical work and shape. Especially for defenders.
"In Italy they look a lot more at your body position and awareness. I get back (to Ireland) once a year, in the summer for a week or ten days.
"When I have a weekend off I usually go to Spain to see my parents and my brother. Spain is kind of home."
A regular for the Inter Milan under-19 side, Nolan has already celebrated success in the Under-19 Supercoppa and was part of the team that won the prestigious Vareggio Cup.
He’s now on the cusp of even bigger things having been named in the squad for what could prove a crucial match in Inter Milan’s season.
Manager Luciano Spalletti is under pressure after run of poor results in Serie A.
Though the Nerazzurri are still on course to qualify for next season’s Champions League, they exited the European Cup in disappointing circumstances last year with Tottenham piping them to a place in the knockout phase.
Success in the Europa League could prove the perfect tonic to these woes with Nolan positioned to potentially play a role in these plans.