Every time I think about the suffering of the last year and a half, the poor performances, one name always comes to mind. It’s not the man I blame for the shenanigans (one Kenneth Bates). It’s not either of Leeds United’s managers during this period (or even Neil Redfearn). It’s not even the best players that we’ve lost over this spell. In my mind, the joys of the best football we’ve played in recent memory can be summed up through the absence of one man – Davide Somma.
That’s why I was exceptionally excited to find out Somma has ‘stepped up’ on the road to recovery. Probably the first time this has been said from official channels as well, with Warnock particularly loath to burden the recovering striker with any sort of timescale over the last few months. Given that a chance encounter with Somma led to the man himself suggesting he’d be back around February of this year, it’s been coming. For large swathes of his time injured, we’ve had no idea what the issue was. One day he was photographed boxing with the coaching staff during pre-season, the next he was getting the entire playing staff banned from Twitter for revealing the extent of his injury. The injury that has sidelined him to this day.
Why is Somma such a symbol to me? This is a man who played for a single season, never truly ever able to fight his way properly into the first team. Phantom-like, more ethereal spirit than true presence by the end of the season, Somma would end up below try-hard Billy Paynter in the pecking order. It was impossible to play Somma up front when it meant leaving out one of our midfield three, or one of our two wingers. Yet we always looked better with Somma on the pitch. We always looked more likely to score. We always seemed to score. He always seemed to score.
I remember a game against Coventry. Somma scored, my autistic brother’s first ever live football game (my mum and him sat in the kop, apparently said brother bemusing everyone by shouting at my mum to stand after half time had ended (it’s in the genes clearly)). He had a goal chalked off for offside too. Compare and contrast to the Ipswich game. A useless performance, one which had fans calling out for the presence of the South African from the bench. He never came, and therefore, neither did a goal. Somma was a professional with an ability that is not easily found in these lower leagues – the ability to turn nearly any chance into a goal. Even a man like Beckford, so ruthless in front of the net, did not seem guaranteed to score every time foot made contact with the ball. Davide Enrico Somma inspired that belief.
His loan spell at Lincoln was the making of him, a chance to assert his abilities on the English game. Top scorer in a mere thirteen game. 9 goals overall, saving a club from relegation. Chris Sutton, manager at the time, said it best when he asserted that he’s never been as confident that a player will put the ball into the goal as when seeing Somma stride forward. This is a natural goalscorer.
What do we need right now? Goals. If McCormack and Somma could conveniently return at the same time, this would be the ideal. The Scot, you would hope, would continue his creative form and craft opportunities. Somma, you’d believe, and you know you would believe from the moment he appeared on the touchline, would put them in. Nets busted. ‘Keepers left on the ground. The form of 2010 returned. I live in hope.
Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1) to receive regular updates asking where Davide Somma is right now.