"I obviously think it's fake" - How a Facebook message took Giancarlo Gallifuoco to Tottenham
Signing for a side in the Premier League is something many footballers aspire to achieve, yet few get to do.
In 2012, Aussie Giancarlo Gallifuoco did just that when he signed for English powerhouse Tottenham Hotspur.
But his path to joining the side was far from ordinary.
A younger Gallifuoco in action for Tottenham. (Getty Images)
After helping Australia qualify for the Under-17 World Cup with an impressive brace in a 3-2 win over the United Arab Emirates, Gallifuoco would find the spotlight suddenly shining on him.
Almost overnight, he had become one of Australian footballs hottest prospects, with several clubs across the world already taking note.
"I was playing for the Joeys, and we played this game to qualify for the World Cup. It was the Quarter Final of the Asian Cup; we were playing [the] UAE, and we were down 2-0 at half-time," he told Front Page Football recently.
"I was on the bench, and for some reason - I had never played that position in my life - my coach decided at half-time to put me on as a striker to bang the ball long, for lack of a better term.
"To make a long story short, I scored two goals, we won 3-2, and it gained a lot of attention. For the first time, I was getting calls from agents globally, which was so strange for me."
After his heroics with the Joeys, Gallifuoco joined Serie B side, Torino, on a short-term contract.
He trained with the first team and youth team and got accustomed to the Italian lifestyle.
Gallifuoco was promoted to the first team for an in-house game in front of thousands of fans after impressive training performances.
With a stellar performance and an assist in the match, Gallifuoco would make headlines across Italy, bringing his rapidly rising stocks even higher.
"I get called into the first team to play an in-house game in front of 5000 people...My team wins 1-0, and I assist the goal," he added.
"The next day, there's a national paper in Italy called La Gazzetta dello Sport, and they have a photo of me. It says 'Torino with a secret reinforcement'."
Just two days later, after his stock had risen to even greater heights, a Facebook message would turn Gallifuoco's life upside down.
The general manager of one of England's biggest clubs, Tottenham Hotspur, sent Gallifuoco a message.
However, the young midfielder greeted it with scepticism at first.
"I have a message in my Facebook saying 'hi, Tim Sherwood would like your number' from the general manager of Tottenham Hotspur. I obviously think it's fake," Gallifuoco said.
"I've grown up in the era of catfishing, so I'm like, 'okay, this is definitely wrong, but I will give my number anyway'.
"About two hours later, I get a call saying 'Hi, my name is Tim Sherwood'. I said, 'No, it's not'. They said, 'I am who I say I am; I hear your contract ends in 20 days. Tell them you want to go home for Christmas, I'll email you [your] flights to London, you're signing for Tottenham Hotspur'."
In February 2012, Gallifuoco would sign a two-and-a-half-year deal with Tottenham.
He would become a regular in the London sides Under-21 team, alongside fellow Australian Massimo Luongo.
He featured only once for Tottenham's first team in a friendly win over Enfield Town in 2013 and has since had stints at numerous clubs across Europe, Australia and Asia.
Gallifuoco also had a stint at fellow Premier League club Swansea City.
Gallifuoco currently plays for Kuala Lumpur City in Malaysia after joining them in 2021.