How pressure is a 'positive' for remarkable teenager Romeo Lavia

·3-min read
Southampton's Romeo Lavia during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leeds at St Mary's Stadium. Photo by Stuart Martin..
Southampton's Romeo Lavia during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leeds at St Mary's Stadium. Photo by Stuart Martin..

SAINTS sensation Romeo Lavia accepts each new level of challenge as if he is blissfully unaware of the increase in expectations.

As a 16-year-old, the Anderlecht starlet arrived at Manchester City and – within six months – was already knocking on the door for the under-23 Elite Development Squad.

The teenager, still studying at school, won City’s academy player of the year award that same season. After two cup appearances for Pep Guardiola’s first-team, he realised he wanted more.

Now, Lavia has accepted his biggest challenge yet. Signing for Saints in the summer transfer window, the 18-year-old has played every minute of the first two Premier League matches.

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Yet, speaking to the Belgian, it is almost like he has not considered the gravitas of his rise. Except he has – he has come with recommendation from football’s greatest – it just does not faze him.

“I don’t feel the pressure, if there is any pressure I think it is always positive as it means people expect something from you. It’s always a positive,” he told the Daily Echo.

“It wasn’t a hard decision (to leave Manchester City for Saints), not really, because I felt ready to make the next step and to get experience in men’s football. I feel like it was the right moment.

“I think just by training with the first-team at Man City, I was speaking to a lot of the first-team players and had a good connection with them.

“They were telling me that I was ready to play and it was up to me to move up.”

Lavia experienced first hand the very top level of European football. He was on the bench for both of the Champions League semi-final matches versus Real Madrid last season.

Los Blancos were eventual 6-5 winners on aggregate, after City’s defeat in Madrid. Three weeks prior, Lavia had also experienced triumph in Madrid in an aggressive contest with Atletico.

“It was amazing, after seeing the level of the intensity required to be at that level I have tried to work on it and reach that level,” Lavia added.

Lavia has an especially close relationship with City and Belgium legend Kevin De Bruyne, after he was discovered by the Manchester club at his home tournament – the KDB Cup.

Since then, Lavia has gone on and trained daily alongside his icon.

“It was amazing, amazing experience. Now he is more than a teammate to me and, when I can, I can go to him to ask for advice and just speak about anything,” Lavia said.

“So it's crazy to think that I was playing in that tournament and now I'm someone that is actually close to him.

“We keep in touch. He’s happy for me and he’s told me that now I need to show what I showed him in training with the Manchester City first-team.”

Another Manchester City connection might have worked in Lavia’s favour, with former captain and hero Vincent Kompany moving to his club – Anderlecht – when beginning his coaching career in 2019.

“I was in contact with Vincent. He said Manchester City were a good club and he wished me all the best in my next step after Anderlecht,” Lavia added.

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