One would be wrong to say that the clash between Spain and Italy at the Santiago Bernabeu will be followed just on planet Earth, as the Azzurri on Saturday will also have support from space. This will come from Paolo Nespoli tomorrow evening, who is an Italian astronaut for the European Space Agency (ESA) and has been up at the International space station (Iss) since July 28th as a crew member for Expedition 52/53. The mission, which is set to last around six months and was developed in accordance with NASA and the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was christened VITA, which is an acronym for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability.
This is Nespoli’s third space mission and he was previously hosted by the FIGC back in November. Meeting with President Carlo Tavecchio, he received a personalised Azzurri shirt with the No.10 on the back. Wearing this exact shirt, the astronaut has now sent a good luck message to the National Team all the way from space: “For all those who are passionate about football,” said Nespoli during a video message. “Tomorrow will be an important day. Our National side will take on Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid in a FIFA World Cup qualifier for Russia 2018. Italy and Spain are both currently leading the group standings and this match is fundamental in terms of who qualifies for the World Cup. I am certain that as always, all Italians will stand side by side with the National Team, and those who are away from home like me, will cheer on Italy even more. This is why I’ve chosen to wear this shirt today, gifted to me by FIGC President Tavecchio before I left on this mission. I will also wear it tomorrow evening and I will keep on eye on earth and support the Azzurri from way up here.”
The astronaut also had a special message for coach Gian Piero Ventura, stating that: “throughout last season he started a path of great potential, focusing on our abundance of young Italian talent. He is now helping them mature with the help of great champions that have already made their mark with the National Team. To conclude this message I want to send my best wishes to the entire squad, wishing you vitality, innovation, technology and ability. These are the words that form VITA, which is the name of our mission. Tomorrow you also have your own space mission and I wish you the very best. Forza Azzurri all the way from space!”
Click here to watch Nespoli’s message from space