Gianluca Primiani: Montreal’s rising teenage soccer star

Courtesy of Gianluca Primiani

by Amanda di Gregorio

While most teenagers his age might be unsure about their future goals, 17-year-old Gianluca Primiani has no doubts about his. “Lots of people my age are applying to college and they don’t know what they want to do with their life. I know what I want to do.”

And what this aspiring young athlete wants to do is play the beautiful game of soccer. Primiani, an honour-roll student at Lester B. Pearson in a sport-concentration program, is the goaltender for the Ville St-Laurent AAA16M soccer team. “I can’t explain it, but goaltending has always been the thing for me when it comes to soccer—my total focal point, even when I’m watching games,” says Primiani, citing Gianluigi Donnarumma and Gigi Buffon as inspirations.

Primiani’s mother, Pina Pacifico, recalls that at the age of four, her son “wanted to play the game before he was even capable.” By the time he was 12, he began taking goalie training. “He’s really got that confidence, that presence as a goalie, and it’s equal to the amount of work I see him putting in,” notes Rino Angelillo, Primiani’s goalie coach. “He truly wants to be there and he wants to win.”

Just last year, with the Ligue de soccer élite du Québec, Primiani and the Saint-Laurent team took home the championship title.They quickly followed that up with a gold medal at La Coupe du Québec, organized through the Fédération de Soccer du Québec. “[The] team is everything.You can make things happen only by working together as one unit.You could have a team of incredible players, but if they can’t work together, you won’t have success,” Primiani says.

In addition to his years of training, hours on the field and daily sports education, the young goalie has also expanded his scope by attending training sessions in the United States, most recently in Las Vegas. “We ask him open questions about what he wants and how he’d like to pursue things going forward,” explains Pacifico. “But we try to make it clear that his family will support him no matter what.”

His family has kept that promise: they attend all of his games, cheering his every turn, volley and save. But they don’t only support him by physically being there; trying for your personal best, putting the team first and staying humble are key points Pacifico says she and her husband hope to impress upon their son.While Primiani considers sports to be an opportunity for personal growth, he’s aware of the importance of maintaining balance in his life by going out with friends. “I have spent so much of my life playing sports, so I consciously make time to have ‘normal’ teenage experiences,” he says.

He also decompresses by taking long walks or runs to relieve the pressure he sometimes feels in the net.“It can take a toll, and you can start to overthink how to avoid making mistakes again in the next game,” Primiani says. But that feeling quickly reverts to optimism. “I just go back and push until I get that perspective I’m looking for and see myself get better.”

Primiani was recently selected to play for the Vanier College soccer team in September. In the interim, he hopes to qualify to play in the Canadian Championship in Prince Edward Island in October.