When you think of leaders for Orlando City, your first thoughts likely go to the team’s captain, Kaká. Although he is a very influential player in the organization, a lot of the younger players on the Lions squad instead look to midfielder Antonio Nocerino as a mentor and a leader. Don’t call him a leader, though. He doesn’t consider himself one. At least, not the typical leader that most would think of.
“For me, I prefer to be a leader by example,” Nocerino said on Media Day, “I don’t like to be called a leader, no. I stay in front of the group, I run before them. For me, this is a good example for a young player. I help them, because before me, the big players like Nesta, Pirlo, Gattuso, helped me when I was young. For me, it’s the best, because the big players helped me. I help the young, because I want the younger players to have big ambitions and I stay available for them. For example, I stay before and after training to talk with them.”
This mentality and leadership that Nocerino conveys has rubbed off on many of the younger players. Almost all of them speak highly of the Italian midfielder and disclose just how impactful he is to their budding careers.
“He helps me a lot. He helps a lot of guys on the team,” Richie Laryea said. “So, just listening to him, obviously he has experience in places that he’s played over the years, so he’s a good guy to listen to, and he’s growing as a leader on this team.”
Tony Rocha, who was asked who helped with his transition from Orlando City B to the MLS side, said, “Well I think a couple of the guys last year who kinda took me under their wing were like Nocerino, Servando because I was playing the position last year and kinda learning from that”
Even Pierre Da Silva, the youngest player on the Orlando City roster, spoke regarding just how Nocerino motivates and inspires him, “He’s always telling me to never lose the ball and you’re a really talented player and you should never lose the ball. He’s always there, always telling me what to do and how to do it.”
Having a player with the background, knowledge and willingness to reinforce those traits back into the younger talent of Orlando City could be a tremendous asset for the players’ future careers.
An incredibly humble player that wants to pass on what he has learned over his years of playing the beautiful game makes Antonio Nocerino one of the biggest assets for Orlando City both on and off the pitch.