IN­TER­VIEW A fa­mous old name adorns Danny Rac­chi’s fam­ily tree, writes Hugh Mac­don­ald

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Football -

T is not the big play­ers who have the big­gest sto­ries. Danny Rac­chi stands 5ft 8ins tall in boots with a very long stud. He has plied his ca­reer at Hud­der­s­field Town, Bury, Wrex­ham and York City. His present pre­oc­cu­pa­tion is to march out as a Kil­marnock player in the Scot­tish Com­mu­ni­ties League Cup final to­mor­row.

He is a hum­ble, al­most bit-part player on planet foot­ball. But he has a story. “My dad is Ital­ian,” says Rac­chi. “My grand­par­ents are from Mi­lan, the same as Manny Pas­cali, but my dad came over and there are a few foot­balling sto­ries there.” So far, so so-so.

Then comes the line that shows that if one is go­ing to drop a name it is best that it is one that would make a dent on re­in­forced con­crete. “The 1982 World Cup man­ager, Enzo Bear­zot, inset, he mar­ried into our fam­ily and my dad al­ways brings that up and we have pic­tures at home. So there is a fam­ily her­itage,” says Rac­chi. Yes, we have a link to a World Cup-win­ning man­ager.

“My dad’s cousin played for Ju­ven­tus but I can’t re­mem­ber his name. But I would love to em­u­late some­thing like that but maybe I am set­ting my sights a bit high.”

Maybe, Danny, maybe. But a 24-year-old on the eve of his big­gest foot­balling oc­ca­sion can be for­given for be­liev­ing the world is full of pos­si­bil­ity.

Rac­chi, too, has worked to give him­self a chance. His fam­ily is strongly sup­port­ive, though Sig­nor Bear­zot, mas­ter­mind of the win­ning side in the 1982 World Cup, was not a fac­tor be­yond a pho­to­graph in the al­bum. “My par­ents have been the big­gest in­flu­ences on my ca­reer,” says Rac­chi. “When I was seven, I signed for Hud­der­s­field and was in their academy for 13 years. I trained three times a week and never missed a ses­sion. Mum and dad were work­ing full time but they’d take me ev­ery­where for games; from Manch­ester to Liver­pool to New­cas­tle.”

His fa­ther, a re­search and de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer, has only missed “about eight games” since his son started at the Hud­der­s­field academy. He has en­cour­aged his son to align him­self with Ital­ian foot­ball. Any Eng­land in­ter­na­tional shirts bought by his mother when Rac­chi was a boy mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared to be re­placed by Ital­ian jer­sies.

His clos­est en­counter with the English big-time was in 2008 when he was part of a Hud­der­s­field squad that was de­feated at Stam­ford Bridge in the FA Cup. Rac­chi watched star-struck as Frank Lam­pard and John Terry walked down the cor­ri­dors and Ro­man Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, vis­ited the Hud­der­s­field dress­in­groom to con­grat­u­late the play­ers on their ef­forts.

But it is a Scot­tish tro­phy that now con­sumes Rac­chi. “This is a big chance for us,” he says of to­mor­row’s match. “We have played bet­ter against the top teams and strug­gled against the lower ones. Ev­ery­body is up for it, the fans are go­ing to be up for it as they were in the semi-final. It starts at 0-0 and any­thing can hap­pen.” Rac­chi, who scored an ex­cel­lent goal in Kil­marnock’s de­feat to Celtic at Park­head in De­cem­ber, points out the club have a dou­ble vic­tory in the league over Rangers but says of to­mor­row’s op­po­nents: “We have put four past them this sea­son in two games so we know we can open them up. The cup final will be no dif­fer­ent, if any­thing it will be more open, more end to end, which might give us a chance.”

Celtic’s sea­son was re­vived by the come­back af­ter be­ing three goals down to Kil­marnock at Rugby Park in Oc­to­ber but Rac­chi be­lieves that his team-mates can take in­spi­ra­tion from that af­ter­noon. “We were far, far bet­ter than them in the first half and for stages in the sec­ond,” he says.

He is aware, though, that Celtic will be a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion at Ham­p­den but his fo­cus is on his de­vel­op­ment at Kil­marnock.

Could he imag­ine play­ing in a ma­jor final when he was toil­ing at York? “In all fair­ness, no,” he says. “There are a few foot­ballers who miss the boat and some come through and this sea­son I have shown I can step it up and play at this level with a cou­ple of goals, es­pe­cially the one at Park­head, play­ing in the semi-final at Ham­p­den and now the cup final.”

It will be, of course, a fam­ily oc­ca­sion. His dad, who took the name Steve af­ter his given mon­icker of Carlo prompted bul­ly­ing as a school­boy, will be there to as­sess his son. There is a com­fort in this but there may also be crit­i­cism. “At the St John­stone game re­cently, I got man of the match and played re­ally well, but the first thing he said to me was ‘what about that pass you gave away in the sec­ond half’? “I was like ‘dad, give me a break’.” It must be the Bear­zot in­flu­ence.

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