Matt Garbett has become the first New Zealand male footballer to sign a senior contract with a top-flight Italian club.
The 19-year-old attacker has penned a four-year deal with Serie A side Torino FC, turning down interest from English Premier League clubs to take the next step in his burgeoning career.
It completes a whirlwind few months for the Wellingtonian, who completed his medical and inked the contract in the last 48 hours.
Garbett told the Herald there were other offers on the table.
"There were some Premier League teams involved," he said.
"They were very persuasive, I'm not going to lie. But I looked at the Torino project and the whole plan they have for me is just really exciting.
"I'll start off training and playing with the under-19 side, but I'll also be getting opportunities to train with the first team, which is a great opportunity for me."
Garbett caught the eye at the recent Olympic Games, a tournament he wasn't originally supposed to play in. When the Oly Whites side to compete in Tokyo was named, Garbett, who at that time playing for Falkenbergs in Sweden, was one of the four travelling reserves.
An IOC edict saw travelling reserves added to the squads ahead of the tournament, but Garbett watched the first two games from the stands, not required in the matchday 17. That all changed ahead of New Zealand's third group match against Romania.
"Danny [Hay] told me how impressed he was with my attitude to being a reserve and not being in the side. Then he told me I'd potentially be starting against Romania," he recalled.
"I'd just been keeping my head up, having the best attitude possible and trying to help the team out. My hunger and desire to do my best and impress the coaches paid off."
Garbett played 72 minutes of the goalless draw which secured New Zealand's passage into the knockout rounds for the first time. He was retained for the quarter-final against Japan, playing a significant role in his side's showing against their hosts, which eventually ended in penalty shootout heartbreak. Clubs had taken notice though and soon Garbett's agent's phone was running hot, with Torino eventually winning the race for his signature.
Torino are among the most successful clubs in Italian football with seven league titles, including five in succession during the 1940s, but most recently in 1975/76. However, they have struggled over the past couple of years, finishing 16th and finished 17th in Serie A their two most recent seasons, narrowly avoiding relegation.
Coached by former Croatian attacker Ivan Juric, they play their home games at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino and enjoy a fierce local rivalry with Italian powerhouses Juventus. Torino captain Andrea Belotti was part of the Azzuri side that won the recent European Championships, beating England on penalties in the final.
Garbett attended Porirua's Ole Football Academy, which has also produced internationals Ryan Thomas, Callum McCowatt, Eli Just, Nando Pijnaker and Marko Stamenic. He grew up on the Kapiti Coast and attended Wellington College but was soon skipping classes to train as often as possible. He joined Falkenbergs in January 2020, playing 27 league and cup games.
There will be no time for resting on his laurels at his new club; Garbett trained with Torino's under-19 side overnight and will likely feature in their clash with Roma tomorrow.
"The plan is to hopefully get to England in the next few years," Garbett said.
"What's best for me in the next two or three years though is trying to get first-team minutes somewhere with an attacking style of play and lots of technical players.
"Torino have a clear plan for me and want me to do well."