There is no doubt that this season's Serie A promises to be one of the most competitive we've ever seen (catch all the action only on Paramount+). Consider the candidates. From Juventus and the return of Max Allegri to Atalanta's non-stop steam engine, this campaign offers multiple storylines containing so many teams that the fight for the Scudetto is the football equivalent of Wacky Races.
For defending champions Inter Milan, much has changed. Simone Inzaghi takes over from Antonio Conte and looks to work with a squad in transition, one that said goodbye to their talisman and unrivaled star Romelu Lukaku and other key players like Achraf Hakimi.
Defending the title may just be harder than actually chasing it.
Smart acquisitions have arrived, however. From the ever-reliable Edin Dzeko to Hakan Çalhanoğlu (from bitter rivals AC Milan), many purchases have been made in order to focus on players who have Serie A experience and who understand the fundamentals and requirements of the Italian game.
Not all of them have been like this though, as one particular player, the 25-year-old Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries, comes to Italy with no experience in Serie A whatsoever. He impressed so much at the European Championship this summer that Inter came knocking, knowing there was a special, hard-working defender that could learn the league quickly. More importantly, he would not be phased by it.
"It was an incredible feeling when my agent told me about the interest from Inter," says Dumfries, speaking to ¡Qué Golazo! and CBS Sports. "I was very happy, very honored and I am happy that I can play for Inter right now."
Straight away, Inzaghi has made him feel comfortable in his new surroundings, but Dumfries knows that the expectations here are big. Especially when he sees the squad around him.
"The squad here - not for nothing that they were champions last year - we have a lot of quality in the team. A lot of players, midfield, defense and attack. Just a top team."
Dumfries knows the expectations and is ready to prove his worth once again. I say once again because his story is one of extreme perseverance and an overall obsession with never taking no for an answer. Born in the Netherlands from an Aruban father and Surinamese mother, Dumfries started his young career as an amateur and agreed to play for his father's Aruba at 17 years old as long as matches were not official. The hope was to play professionally for the Netherlands but obviously, knowing how competitive it is to even make it as a Dutch professional, let alone play for the national team, the doubters kept showing up.
"I had bigger goals and bigger dreams but I knew from a young age, I would play for the Netherlands national team, so that was my goal," he says. "People thought it was a bit strange cause at that time when you are an amateur player and you say you're going to play for the national team...but I really believed in that and kept on focusing on my goal and that's why now I feel really blessed that I play for the Netherlands and now can play for Inter Milan!"
Sparta Rotterdam from the second-tier gave him an opportunity and in his first season, the club earned promotion to the Eredivisie. Eventually he ended at PSV Eindhoven and months after joining, Ronald Koeman called him up.
There is definitely a Hollywood script here somewhere. That's fitting, since he was named after one of cinema's iconic leading men: Denzel Washington.
"I think Denzel Washington is a very inspiring person and at the time....they named me after him and I am also happy they named me after him…"
He can't quite remember what his favorite Denzel movie is, but he tells me it will come. I give him options. From Training Day to The Hurricane but it's not them. It's just not coming to him.
Maybe by the end of the conversation, we tell each other. The Hurricane, however, could be a nice selection, seeing as Dumfries's game is much like Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter in the ring. Tenacious, unafraid to go forward and steamroll into the box. We saw plenty of that this summer for the Netherlands, where Dumfries would go forward like a machine. He's a forward-thinking right back, which will help Inter Milan, but at times, it seems as if he's a forward pretending to be a defender. There is much to admire about his game, especially in this fast-paced football environment.
For now, the main focus is Serie A and of course the Champions League, where there won't be a chance to face his former club PSV Eindhoven after the Dutch side were eliminated by Benfica on Tuesday night. That means Dumfries is already seeing the benefits of his move to Serie A, a league that is somewhere where Denzel Dumfries really wants to hone his trade. He knows what he can bring to the table, he's more than ready to show it.
"I have followed Serie A since I was a player," says Dumfries. "So I think a lot of teams are very competitive for the title but the most important thing is that we focus on ourselves and our game. I really believe in the team and as I said in the first training. I came here and I saw that we have a lot of quality. I really believe in our chances."
As the interview wraps up, Denzel - never to be a quitter - continues to try and figure out what his favorite movie is.
Then it comes to him
"THE EQUALIZER!!" he yells back.
A movie about a mysterious, quiet, reserved man who is actually a relentless hero with incredible skills is called into action in order to restore order and save the day?
Sounds about right.
Make sure to watch the entire interview on our YouTube channel.