Gabriel Ferrari is the most upbeat he has been in years heading into the 2010-2011 Italian season with Serie A club Sampdoria.
Ferrari was signed by the Genoa club in January of 2007 but has yet to make his debut with the senior club in league play.
The past several years have seen Ferrari get loaned out to various Lega Pro Prima Divisione teams where he either struggled to find regular playing time or battled injuries.
Now heading into his fourth full season as a professional, the New York City native feels he is on the cusp of reaching a breakthrough with his parent club.
"When I return for preseason, I will be practicing with the first team for the first time in two years," Ferrari recently told YA. "I am so happy to be back in a Serie A environment. If I can show them what I can do, then I think I'll stay with the club... It's funny, it's almost feels like a trial but overall I'm really happy about the situation."
He also adds that new team officials and executives have elected to trim some of its higher-paid players from the roster and will be looking to lean on a younger set of players like Ferrari whom have spent the last couple of seasons either on loan with lower division teams or in their youth system.
"All of the executives from Sampdoria who were there last year moved over Juventus so the new people in charge at the club are looking at players who are owned by Sampdoria and have been playing in other leagues," explained Ferrari. "The core of this year's team is young."
When he originally agreed to terms with the Italian club nearly four years ago, Ferrari's contract was due to expire in June of 2010.
However, the club appears to be impressed with the progress that the 21 year old has made while on-loan and extended his contract another two years.
"Sampdoria renewed my contract through 2012," he said of his extension. "It's nice to know that they still have faith in me and believe that I can play at a high level."
In the time that Ferrari was sent on-loan starting in 2008, he had stints with Perugia, Foggia and Ternana, all clubs in Italy's lower divisions.
Most recently the striker was with Ternana where he appeared in just four matches before an injury prematurely ended his season.
Ironically, in his first match with Ternana, Ferrari was pitted against Foggia, the club where he had been just days prior.
Adding to the intrigue, Ferrari scored a goal against his old teammates who were playing in front of their home fans in a match between two clubs fighting to avoid relegation.
"When I went out to Ternana, I started in all four games and scored a goal in my first game which was against Foggia," chuckled Ferrari. "It was a gratifying moment because it was such a hostile environment. But soon after a couple more games I couldn't continue playing because of my shoulder."
While the club has already begun its preseason training in the mountain town of Moena, Ferrari continues to recover from surgery on his shoulder that he underwent last month and is expecting to be back with the team in two weeks.
The former US Under-20 player says the injury ocurred during last year's preseason which severly hindered his ability to make in impact in training and especially in matches.
"I hurt my shoulder last year before the season started," Ferrari said of the injury. "It was on a 50-50 ball and my shoulder got dislocated out of its socket. I played the entire season with it. Last year it came out of its socket six different times but I was able to pop it back into place. It hurt so bad and I wasn't really able to go 100% in any matches and especially during challenges."
Once he is fully healed from the injury, Ferrari's first choice is to win a spot on the Sampdoria roster but should the club decide to send him out on-loan again, he says he would welcome the decision as long as he is placed into a more competitive level than some of his previous third division stops.
"If I do go back out on loan, the big thing for me is finding a good situation abroad and not back with a Serie C team," he said. "I'd also be open to joining a Serie B team or going to play in another country... But for now, it's a delicate situation because of my shoulder. I'm just looking forward to getting back to playing."
Despite the setbacks of the last several years, Ferrari remains confident in himself and believes that a bright future in one of Europe's most competitive leagues still awaits him.
He firmly believes that the low points have only strengthened his resolve and that the knowledge earned at those lower division outposts has benefitted him tremendously.
"Admittedly the last two years have been difficult," concluded Ferrari. "I always look to my father for advice and he tells me, 'You'd be a senior in college right now if you gone to play soccer in school... So think about how much more you have learned playing professionally for three years in Europe.' And he's right. Each day I'm gaining and learning and I think I am getting back on the right track."