Everyone loves a plucky underdog, and in the world of plucky underdogs, the football team of San Marino are major players, battling the likes of Lichtenstein, Andorra and the Faroe Islands for the title of Least Likely to Venture into an Opponents’ Half.
Which is why, ahead of their World Cup qualifier with England tonight, we spoke to one of San Marino’s star men, Danilo Rinaldi (@rinaldidanilo), who’ll be hoping to embarrass the Bentley-driving, Gucci-wearing, cash-burning Premier league millionaires.
How do you feel about playing against England?
I feel good for the match against England. Fit and ready for a good performance. I hope to make a good game if I play. It’s a beautiful honour to play against the English.
What’s the most exciting element for you?
What is most exciting is the game itself. There will be a full stadium, and to play against those phenomenal players is very exciting.
Will it be tough for England to play at your place?
Playing in our ground is not easy. We know it and we know how to move around it, but they have players who are playing in all kinds of grounds, who are real professionals. I do not think it is very difficult for them to play here.
Are you excited about playing against the England players?
For me and for all the team, playing against the English is a huge honour. They have players who are the best in the world, I think it will be a memorable game.
Have you got a favourite player?
Yes, I have! I really like Wayne Rooney!
What’s a good result for San Marino?
I believe a good result for us would be 3-0 to England. We also hope to score, though [laughs]. We are a small nation, we are workers who play football, and we will work to make a good game and a good result.
What ambitions have you got in football?
My ambitions in football aren’t many after that game I played Wembley. I want to play more with the national team of San Marino, and why not play a few years with a professional team?
What do you do for a living now?
I work at a company that makes furniture, and I train with my club Sportivo La Fiorita.
Is it ever difficult playing for San Marino?
When I play with the national team, it’s all good. The trips with friends, playing in the most beautiful countries against the amazing players, it's all good. I enjoy every minute.