HEARING a coach yell ‘die, die, die!’ as you train would be a tad concerning for any footballer.
But for Ed McJannet, it was just one of the many adjustments he has had to make since swapping Luton in the Championship for Italian side Lecce on deadline day.
This switch was specifically a linguistic one, with the Italian word ‘Dai’, as it is spelt, loosely translating to ‘Come on’ or ‘let’s go’.
McJannet, 19, told SunSport: “I had to ask what that one meant!
“It’s all part of the adventure. I like to embrace challenges.
“When you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re learning and growing which is important.”
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For decades the only memorable example of an Irishman in the land of the Boot was Robbie Keane’s short-lived spell at Inter Milan.
But McJannet has become the latest Irish kid to move to the land of pizza and pasta in the last year in what has been a surprising new trend.
Festy Ebosele and James Abankwah are in the first-team set-up at Udinese, John Ryan is as Sassuolo and Liam Kerrigan is with Serie B outfit Como. Kevin Zefi (Inter) and Cathal Heffernan (AC) are in the academies of both Milan clubs.
McJannet spoke to close friends Abankwah and Ryan before giving Lecce the green light.
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He said: “They said it was really good and that they enjoy it. They said it was tough with the language, the style of football – that it’s very tactical – but were really positive about it.
“It’s great to see people I know from Ireland doing so well in Italy and in their football journey. It was definitely encouraging.”
McJannet had been with Luton since he was nine, becoming their youngest-ever pro when signing a senior contract on his 17th birthday.
Yet he did not want to turn down what he felt was an exciting opportunity and hot-footed it via plane to Lecce with agent Dan Fletcher as they rushed to beat the transfer deadline.
Terms were agreed and a three-year deal signed as he joined Lecce’s Under-19 ranks, working under English-speaking coach Federico Coppitelli.
More than two months on and McJannet is still getting used to the cultural differences down in the south of Italy, where temperatures can soar to 40 degrees in the summer.
He explained: “At the moment we train in the afternoon about 2 o’clock. At Luton, we used to train in the morning. I think the hotter it gets, the earlier we’ll train so that might change.
“It’s about 18 degrees right now. It’s nice. I’m looking forward to, of course, but also dreading a bit when it gets really hot as I’m used to the English weather.
“That’s going to be a massive adaptation. It was really hot the other day and we were doing a tough session and I thought, ‘wow, this is tough’. The heat had a massive impact.
“But the more you do it, the more you get used to it. It’s something I’ll get used to – I hope!”
It is not just the time of training that is a change for McJannet, but also the focus during sessions and the sheer volume of them.
The midfielder added: “It’s a bit more tactical out here, they focus a lot on tactics and shape which is good because you’re learning so much about the game as well as playing it.
“It’s tough the training we do. We train almost every day. The only day we get off is the day after a game. So it’s intense but I absolutely love it.”
McJannet is also adapting to the sheer amount and variety of pasta on offer, having been accustomed to his mum’s cooking.
But homesickness has not been a problem – given how easy it is to get a taste of the familiar thanks to Whatsapp, Facetime, Netflix and other online comforts.
Instead, he is purely focused on throwing himself into his new culture and hopes soon to be speaking the lingo, doing two one-and-a-half-hour lessons a week plus practice on language app DuoLingo.
The youngster added: “It’s been a really enjoyable few months.
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“I’m still settling in, still have lots to adapt to like the language. I’ve picked up stuff from lessons. I’m really enjoying the language, I’d love to be fluent in another language. It would be a great skill and just quite cool.
“I’ve joined in January so I’ve got half the season. I just want to give it everything and hopefully chances will come. It would be a dream to play in the first team.”
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