Reading in Italy 1913, Attilio Fresia

Reading 1913-14

without doubt, Reading FC are the finest foreign team seen in Italy.
 Corriere della Sera

In the summer of 1913 Reading of the Southern League undertook a tour of Italy. It is likely that Willy Garbutt was involved in organizing this. Garbutt began his career with Reading (1903–1906) before moving on to Woolwich Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers. In 1912 his playing career at an end, he moved to Genoa and managed the team.
 After a transcontinental railway journey Reading played the following six fixtures in Italy.

11.05.13: Genoa FCB 2-4 Reading
Genoa fielded 5 British born players. Both of Genoa's goals were scored by Attilio Fresia, who had moved there from Andrea Doria that season for a fee equivalent to £400.

12.05.13: Milan FCB 0-5 Reading

14.05.13: Casale 2-1 Reading

Casale, who won the Italian National Championship in became the first Italian team to defeat English professional opposition. The local press had billed Reading as the Football League runners-up (they were 8th in the Southern League- the 1912–13 league runners up were Aston Villa ). Bizarrely Casale played on a very small pitch-probably about 50 yards (34 yards according to one report ) by 90 yards.

15.05.13: Pro Vercelli 0-6 Reading 

The best team in Italy. Reading won with ease in a controversial and fiery game. Reading's Morris retaliated to a kick from one of Pro Vercelli's players and the Pro Vercelli team and the home crowd 'turned ugly'. Reading were going to walk off the pitch, but Pro Vercelli's captain was able to restore order.

18.05.13: Italy 0-2 Reading
Italy's starting line up included 8 players from Pro Vercelli, 2 from Genoa and 1 from Milan.
Following this match Reading were invited to play against Germany  but their travelling arrangements (they left for England the following day) forced them to decline.

 Attilio Fresia 

Attilio Fresia 's performance for Genoa aroused Reading's interest. Fresia had made his international debut against Belgium ten days before reading's arrival. He brought a new dimension to ther Italian game with his high level of skill and astuteness.  Reading signed him for £17, but the transfer (being the first of it's kind) was delayed by bureaucracy and Fresia remained in Genoa , assisting Garbutt, until December 1913. Fresia became the first Italian to play football in England. He didn't make much of an impression (although media interest was high)- the press observed that he struggled  on heavy pitches. Fresia returned to Italy the following year. After the war he moved to Brazil in the hope of recovering his health (he had chronic respiratory problems) and worked with Palestra Italia. He returned to Italy once more in 1922, and died the following year aged 32.