Paolo Torneri may seem like an average 21-year old, who like football and studies. However, upon further discussion, you realise he is an Italian footballer, an entrepreneur and a physiotherapy student.
In another special for the Dreamers series, we spoke to Paolo about football, physiotherapy and running his business.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
So, I’m 21-years old and I come from a small village in Italy, near Verona.
I have a lot of interests in my life and despite my young age, I’ve tried and experienced a lot of things.
There are three things that represent my main interests: my passion for sport, health and wellbeing that I follow as a physiotherapist student, entrepreneurship and football.
I am from Italy, the country that I love, but I really like to travel and visit new places.
When I was in high school I lived in Finland for one year as an exchange student, which gave me the opportunity to open up my mind to different culture and habits.
I can’t hide that all of my interests and all that I’ve done would have been meaningless if I wouldn’t have had the chance to share it my family and friends who represent two solid pillars in my life.
Tell me a bit about your life outside of football in Italy?
My studies and work as an entrepreneur take up most of my free time, but as a real football fan: when I don’t play football either I talk or I watch it.
When I’m not training I go to the gym, whereas during the summer, when we have a break I really like to try new sports: I like to run and ride my bike in the hills next to my hometown, I’ve also tried sports such as Muay Thai, MMA and Tennis.
In my free time, I really enjoy hanging out with my friends, spending some good time relaxing and having fun together.
I also have a geeky side, as I like to play my Xbox one (FIFA, of course, is my favourite game), read and watch superhero movies, my favourite being Green Lantern.
What position do you play and why do you enjoy football?
I usually play as a central midfielder, but as you can imagine, sometimes, due to the situation of the game or because of a teammates injury I have to play on the wing or as a left-back.
I’ve always been taught that the team comes first, so I actually don’t mind where I play, as long as I can help my team.
I love football, starting from training, games and all the beautiful moments spent with my teammates, sharing either good or bad times.
As one of my team-mates likes to say “football gives you a lot and also takes a lot from you, and it will always be more about what it takes from you rather than what it gives to you”.
That is something I agree with, but those moments when football gives back to you, such as winning an important game, are something else.
You are also a physiotherapy student, how does that complement your football?
Well, I decided to study physiotherapy because of my interest in sports.
I wanted to become more aware of the factors that contribute to keeping a player in the best condition and how athletes can avoid injuries.
My knowledge in sports injury helps me manage the training load and also keeps me in the best shape possible in order to play to the best of my ability.
Tell me a little bit about Fisioscience?
Well, I think that I should start from the beginning. I founded FisioScience with 4 other, really capable physiotherapists in Italy in 2018. We met each other and shared our common passion for physiotherapy, so thought it inevitable.
FisioScience was born in order to offer a new view of physiotherapy in the huge world of the rehabilitation in Italy, where the field was divided between the new generation of physiotherapists and the old ones.
We want to create a solid community where all physiotherapists can have access to the most update evidence, based on scientific research, and try to fill in the gaps between studies and the clinical practice.
In order to do that, we are active on social media, sharing scientific disclosures and organizing formative courses all over Italy.
What have been some of the successes and challenges of running Fisioscience?
Well, it has not been easy because we had to challenge common beliefs that are spread all over the world of physiotherapy, such as practitioners who don’t rely on the best scientific evidence available, instead, using their personal experiences or techniques that are questionable, particularly in the realm of ethics.
Also, in order to achieve what we wanted, we had to work really hard, sacrifice our free time and that too with no monetary rewards.
As it often happens, the hard work has paid off and people have shown appreciation towards what we are doing, but believe me, being able to support and assist them through the work that we do has been worth it
How do you manage your time as a footballer, physiotherapy student and entrepreneur?
Well you know, sometimes I would rather have 48 hours in a day, not just 24.
In order to do everything it is essential to manage your time during the day, I’ve been reading books and studying about time management and I can tell you that the best strategy is always to have a clear look at all the things that you have to do and then set priorities.
Of course, as you can imagine, my schedule is quite full and I live at 100%, but it isn’t so bad, because I love what I do.
Who’s your favourite footballer and why?
This is a really tough one. There are a lot of players that I really like, but if I had to choose one of them I would pick Francesco Totti, Roma and Italy’s legend and world cup winner.
I chose him because he is one of the best ever and he opted to play for his city, in turn, refusing a lot of good offers for both his career and his wallet.
In a footballing world that is in dominated by money, a real legend like Francesco is something that I truly miss and find hard to come by.
And your favourite team?
That is a bit easier. Since I was a little kid, I’ve grown up watching and supporting AC Milan, back in the days when it was at the top of Europe.
I actually fell in love because of Paolo Maldini, I always wanted to be like him, he was a really strong player but unfortunately for me, the only things that we have in common are the fact that we are both left-footed, our first names and our birthdays (26 June).
So, Milan is the football team that I like the most, but the one that I love is Hellas Verona, the team of my city, no matter how good or bad they play but as a local, I will always support them
Your favourite football position?
I think that I can give my best in the position where I play, so central midfield or left-wing, but I really enjoy playing as a striker too.
In midfield you do a lot of “dirty jobs”, like running, tackling, passing the ball while the striker is in position, you have to focus more on scoring goals and enjoying the moment.
Any favourite football books or movies that you recommend?
Nowadays you can find a lot of movies about football that share stories about players, so if you like any particular player I suggest you check up if there is a documentary about them.
In my opinion, one of the best football books is Jamie Vardy: From Nowhere, My Story, a really nice story of a modern hero.
Tell me about how you utilize your experiences outside of football to benefit your game and that of others?
It’s common for a player to be scared when they feel some pain because it’s hard for them to find reasons for that and often they blame the wrong issue due to personal beliefs and previous experiences.
I try to be as available as I can for my teammates, it’s both, a chance to help them and to practice my skills as well.
Any words of advice or tips to young people who want to get involved in entrepreneurship, sports health and wellbeing or football?
Well, talking in football terms, I believe that in every game, no matter how strong your opponent is, there is always a chance to win.
Life puts many challenges in front of us, but we have the opportunities to overcome them.
One thing that I’ve noticed in all the people who have been able to accomplish big goals is that they are driven by a strong passion, they deeply believe in what they are doing and they give 100% in all their activities.
So, the world of sport and entrepreneurship is full of challenges and opportunities, find the things that you like the most and go further with them!