Carl Valeri will fulfill his life-long dream of playing in one of the world’s premier leagues after securing a promotion to the Italian Premier League's Serie A.
A decade after leaving Canberra to play professionally in Italy, the Socceroos midfielder has graduated to the top flight after his club Sassoulo claimed the Serie B title on Monday morning.
Valeri - who is out with an ankle injury - was nervously watching from the sidelines as Sassoulo claimed victory in the 96th minute of their final round game to collect the championship and earn automatic promotion.
He phoned his father and former NSL player Walter Valeri immediately after to share in the jubilation.
‘‘He called me at 2am this morning and I could hardly hear him there was that much noise at the stadium,’’ Walter said.
‘‘It’s absoultely fantastic, Carl has worked so hard to make this happen.
‘‘His goal has always been to play in the Serie A and now it’s finally happened.’’
Valeri will be just the eighth Australian to play in the Italian top flight, after John Aloisi, Vince Grella, Zeljko Kalac, Mark Bresciano, Frank Farina, Paul Okon and James Troisi.
He can now prepare to face some of the biggest clubs in the world next season, including Inter Milan, Juventus and AC Milan.
The 28-year-old has endured a long road to make the big time after signing with Inter Milan in 2002.
He was loaned out to various lower league clubs in Italy to gain experience and has been with Sassoulo for the past three seasons.
Valeri has been sidelined since Australia’s friendly with South Korea last November and will return home next week to to continue his rehabilation.
He will be sidelined for the rest of the Socceroos’ World Cup qualification campaign, but hopes to return to pre-season training with Sassoulo in July.
Valeri has another year to run on his contract, giving him the perfect opportunity to press his claims for next year’s World Cup in Brazil should Australia qualify.