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Columbus Crew 2 captain Marco Michaletto has a different path to Columbus than many of his teammates.

For some, football is just a hobby. This is what a person plays to be a part of something. This is something that someone can do to become more active.

However, for Columbus Crew 2 captain Marco Michaletto, football is a way of life.

“When I was four or five years old, Roma won the championship, ”Micaletto recalled. “And I remember how my parents and I celebrated on the street. That was the moment I really fell in love with (football).”

Growing up and playing football in Europe is very different than in the United States. Michaletto described it as a “religion” in Italy, where he was born. Micaletto spent half of his youth football out of town before moving to England at the age of just nine.

The midfielder began his football career in England at Southamptonwhich was a culture shock. It was Michaletto’s first experience at a professional club and one he had to deal with as he adjusted to playing at a new level after he had just moved to a new country and experienced a whole new culture.

“It was a cruel game,” he told Massive Report. “Everyone took care of themselves and most prayed that someone else would make a mistake to get their chance. But that’s when I started to understand what it takes to be a professional.”

After four years at Southampton, Micaletto took another opportunity and decided to move to the Brentford Academy. He remained a part of this club until he was 17 years old.

“For me, and this may sound trite, football is my mainstay. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a passion for football and I’m proud of the work I’ve done,” said Micaletto about what it means to him to play football. “Football rescued me from trouble, not drugs and alcohol. It prevented me from going out on Friday night because I knew I was going to have a football match the next day.”

Micaletto’s last stop before heading to the United States was Nottingham Forrest. Every footballer dreams of getting his first professional contract. But it wouldn’t have come from his former club, or any other European club, for that matter.

In the United States, players rarely enter the professional ranks immediately after high school. It was something different for Micaletto.

Upon arriving in the US, Micaletto found himself playing college football. He played for several different schools, most notably the Akron Zips of the Mid-America Conference.

“Exploring new cultures has helped me open my mind to other things,” he said. “Before college, I never set foot in the gym.”

This time around, Michaletto was learning because footballers are looked at differently in America when it comes to athletic ability.

“In the United States, the better athlete you can become, the better player you can become,” Michaletto said of the difference in player types he has seen throughout his career.

“I knew I wasn’t fast, I wasn’t strong and I wasn’t very agile. But the important thing is what you were able to do with the ball,” said Michaletto about being a footballer from Europe.

Everything that Michaletto did led him to where he is today: Crew Captain 2.

“Both opportunities, I don’t know how I got them,” he admitted. “I do not deserve the privilege of leading this team and organization.”

But the call to move to Columbus was a dream move. Micaletto acknowledged Black & Gold’s history and said he was “speechless” when the opportunity presented itself to be part of the first club in Major League Soccer history.

The move to Columbus was even more special when he was promoted to crew captain of 2, the first in the history of the new reserve team and what Michaletto called “extremely humiliating.”

The experience that Michaletto, who is much older than many of his teammates at 26, has gained by being a professional athlete and being able to pass on that experience and teach the younger players on this team, he will not take for granted. As a leader, Michaletto wants to make sure the team knows why something is happening.

“I want us to understand why we win games and how we could lose,” he said. “When we lose, I want us to understand what we could do to win.”

In the first 11 games of the MLS NEXT Pro season, Michaletto was instrumental in the team’s success. Not only did he captain the team and lead his Crew 2 teammates, he also contributed significantly to the stats with three goals and two assists.

Micaletto and Crew 2 are looking forward to the end of the season as they look to make the playoffs in MLS Next Pro’s inaugural season. Fans can watch Micaletto and Crew 2 every game day as every MLS Next Pro match is streamed live on mlsnextpro.com.

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