French student is a football player in Wisconsin, and no, he isn’t playing soccer

Enzo Rosani is living a dream as a member of UW-Stout’s football team

When thinking about sports in France, soccer, cycling and basketball come to mind. France and American football don’t seem to go hand-in-hand. American football is played in France by thousands of devoted players.

But in France, football takes a distant back seat to soccer, basketball, rugby, cycling, tennis and even cricket. Those who play though, are 100 percent committed to the game of football. People of all ages play the sport and club teams exist throughout the country, competing in various semi-professional circuits.

However, even the highest level of French football pales in comparison to what college and professional football are in the United States. Naturally, the young talents of the French league dream of taking their skills overseas and competing against the best in the world.

That was Enzo Rosani‘s dream, and now he is living it as a member of UW-Stout’s football team

Enzo Rosani

Enzo Rosani is a member of the French National American Football Team.

A soccer player in his youth, Rosani discovered football about five years ago, when one of his friends introduced him to the game. Right away, he was hooked.

“I had played soccer my whole life,” Rosani said. “I went with them one day to try it [American football] and liked it a lot.”

 Rosani began playing more and more, joining a club team near his hometown of Gagny, a suburb of eastern Paris. One of his coaches was from the United States and was very influential in teaching Rosani the game. His skills rapidly improved and soon he was one of the most promising up-and-coming players in all of France, earning a spot on the French National team.

As a member of the team, Rosani traveled to Austin, Texas, where the French team competed against all-star teams from the United States and around the world.

“When we first got to Texas, I couldn’t believe how huge the facilities just for football were,” Rosani said. “I also liked the combination of it all, the way school and sport were part of the same thing.”

In France, school teams do not exist. Athletes play for club teams that are completely independent of the school. This directly contrasts with how sports are in the United States, where school and sport are synonymous with one another.

His first exposure to the way football was played in America truly astounded Rosani and he knew from that moment on that he wanted to play football at the next level: in college, in the United States.

Playing on his club team, Rosani had a great time and enjoyed learning and growing as a player, but longed to test his skills in the United States.

Enzo Rosani7

Enzo in pursuit

“My coach [former UW-Stout coach Steve Guersent] was from here, so he prepared me for what to expect,” he said. “I wanted more competitive games, just higher levels of competition.”

Three years ago, Rosani became completely committed to his dream of playing football in the United States. He began working out every day, to build muscle and improve his play on the field.

His American coach played a big role as well, helping Rosani find a way to realize his dream of playing football in America. He ended up deciding on Stout for a few reasons. He sent his game film to coaches at different Division II and III schools around the Midwest.

“I knew in Division III I was going to play sooner, but I still [wanted] to compete against higher competition and I knew that this conference was tough,” Rosani said.

When he arrived in the United States, it took him a little time to get used to the differences between the U.S. and France. The biggest problem he had was convincing people that he was a French football player.

“When I first got here, people would always think I meant soccer when I would say football,” Rosani said, laughing. “It was a little hard to integrate myself, but once my teammates saw I could play they respected me.”

The team atmosphere and the camaraderie are some of the things that Rosani has enjoyed the most about playing for the Blue Devils.

“They encourage me and they are always ready to work hard,” said Rosani. “The coaches are great too, it has been a lot of fun.”

A cornerback, Rosani has always preferred playing on the defensive side of the ball.

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Rosani making a tackle for the French National Team

“I always liked lining up across from the wide receivers and play for the ball,” he said. “I enjoyed the tackling, too.”

For now, Rosani is waiting his turn and learning the ins and outs of the Stout defensive scheme. He knows that with the number of upperclassmen above him on the depth chart that playing time will be hard to come by, at least this season.

“I really want to play but there are a lot of juniors and seniors ahead of me,” said Rosani. “Right now I am focused on improving my play and getting ready for next year.”

With four years ahead of him, there’s a strong chance that Blue Devils fans will be seeing more of this young football player in the future. Despite his unlikely beginnings, Rosani is driven to achieve his goals, both on and off the field.

A Business Administration major, Rosani has plans to become a real estate agent when he graduates. That is, unless the NFL comes calling first.

By: Colin Marklowitz, UW-Stout Sports Information assistant

Colin Marklowitz
Colin works in the UW Stout Sports Information Department.
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