The Concacaf Nations League is a competition which provides extra ‘competitive’ encounters for national teams such as Canada, from which they can benefit in terms of playing minutes and pool expansion.
Moreover, it’s a platform in which coaches can hand debuts to rising stars in comfortable games ahead of much stiffer tests.
Case in point; what Canada boss John Herdman did when he deployed 18-year-old Alessandro Busti between goal against Dominica in the Reds’ last Nations League appointment.
Born in 2000, Busti comes from Juventus’ U-23 team and is one of the players with which Herdman is hoping to lay the foundations of a solid national team ahead of upcoming events such as the Gold Cup — but also with an eye on the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
So, who is Alessandro Busti?
Interestingly, Busti has featured for Italian national youth teams, having moved from Canada to Italy before he was even one year old.
Nonetheless, he did not hesitate to accept Herdman’s call, having also represented Canada in the U-23 Toulon Tournament in France this year — which had already underlined his desire to don Canada’s red shirt.
At 10 years old, Busti started to feature for Juventus’ youth teams after a spell at Lascaris, a local club in Turin, and now, in his eighth season in northern Italy, he is one of the old guys with the Primavera side (youth team) and a possible starter for the U-23 team that has started its journey in Italy’s Serie C.
Last year, the Canadian goalkeeper was one of the best players for I Bianconeri in the prestigious Viareggio Tournament.
Speaking to Sportsnet, Busti said that he did not expect Canada to call him up but as soon as he was offered this opportunity, he made sure to go through with it and realize the dreams of his family.
The Toronto-born goalkeeper often trains with the Juventus senior team where he practices alongside the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Miralem Pjanic and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Until last year, he had the best mentor a goalkeeper could ask for: Gianluigi Buffon.
“He gave me some advice,” Busti told Sportsnet. “I’m impressed by Buffon because he’s 40 and he’s amazing.”
In recent years, Juventus did not really give youth goalkeepers a chance to feature in the A team. Academy product Carlo Pinsoglio is currently their third goalkeeper while Italian goalkeeper Emil Audero was sent to Sampdoria. The current goalkeeper of the Serie C team is Mattia Del Favero, another youngster. Nonetheless, Busti’s debut with Canada will surely help his profile increase at the Italian giants and it would not be a surprise if gets more consideration by them, in particular by boss Massimiliano Allegri.
Busti’s cap augurs well for the future, as the young, dynamic Canadian men’s national team continues to develop on the road to the 2022 and 2026 World Cups.