The Wanderers are happy to announce one of the club’s most significant squad moves this off season with the signing of Alessandro Riggi.
The 26-year-old from Montreal is an experienced attacker with a proven record of creating and scoring goals.
A former FC Montreal player who spent last season with USL team Phoenix Rising, Riggi is a player who Stephen Hart believes will get the fans out of their seats with his skills.
“I like to bring joy on the pitch for the fans and be the one who makes the crowd go ‘ooh’. I love to put points on the board whether a goal or assist, it’s going to be very cool to be a part of this league,” Riggi said.
A player who has been attracting attention from pro teams since the age of 14, when he went for a spell to the Vancouver Whitecaps academy, Riggi is at home on either flank or behind the striker.
“He’s a very nippy and tricky player, exciting to watch and he can find space in between the lines and run at defenders,” said coach Stephen Hart. “He scores goals with either foot and I think he will quickly develop into a player who fans will want to see on the field.”
After chasing his football dream as a teenager during trials in Italy with Sampdoria, then a season at Celta Vigo’s academy in Spain, in addition to time at CFR Cluj in Romania, Riggi is thrilled to be coming home to play in Canada.
“I know a couple of players who played for Halifax last season and they said the city is phenomenal and the pitch is the best pitch in the league,” he explained. “I know Halifax didn’t have the best season but the fans were there showing their love and I think that shows a lot of passion for the game and that’s what I love.”
In three seasons with FC Montreal, Riggi notched 15 goals and 9 assists in 48 games before moving to Phoenix Rising in 2017.
There, he hit the back of the net 6 times in 34 appearances adding 10 assists, although his last season was cut short through injury.
However, he was a part of the Phoenix team that won a Western Conference championship and broke team records for the most goals, points and wins in a season.
“Phoenix was great, we won things and it’s a club that is top quality,” Riggi said. “There was a very strong winning mentality and you had to make sure you concentrated always on the next match and prepared for that, even if we won 4-0, to do everything to keep winning.”
While there were a number of highlights during his time in Arizona, playing alongside football legend Didier Drogba, is something he’ll always cherish.
“Drogba was an amazing teammate, he is such a winner and so humble on and off the pitch. I was poking his mind every day and always analyzing him, he’s an icon,” Riggi explained. “He was 40 and putting in extra work in training every day.”
Riggi is now keen to bring his experience to Halifax to try to contend in the Canadian Premier League.
“If I can bring some more goals and victories I think it will only increase awareness of the game, so I’m very excited. I hope for a Cinderella story from a team that finished last to challenging for the whole thing,” he said.
Flexibility in attack
Hart sees the addition of Riggi — who has also represented Canada at the U 20 level — as a coup in his squad building process.
“If you look at the signings you will see a certain type of player emerging that gives us a little more flexibility tactically and I’m hoping the combinations of Bent, Riggi, Garcia, Kreim and Sanoh give us quite a variety in the attack,” he said.
Riggi, who stands 5 ft. 4 in., sees his size as an advantage.
“I use my lower centre of gravity and I’m quicker in shifting and pivoting my body so it’s easy for me to unbalance defenders,” he said.
The club’s new signing is the eleventh player to be announced as part of the 2020 Wanderers squad.
He joins goalkeeper Christian Oxner, defenders Alex De Carolis, Chrisnovic N’sa and Peter Schaale. Midfielders Scott Firth, Andre Rampersad, Aboubacar Sissoko and Omar Kreim. Strikers Akeem Garcia and Ibra Sanoh have also signed.
And University prospects Cory Bent and Jake Ruby will be invited to training camp in March to try and earn spots on Stephen Hart’s squad.