MANUEL PASCALI believes his career provides the perfect example of how David Bates can benefit from a move abroad.
The Rangers defender will switch to Hamburg on a free transfer in the summer, having signed a lucrative long-term deal after the Ibrox club refused to meet his wage demands.
That’s a decision which prompted Light Blues manager Graeme Murty to voice fears that the 21-year-old was putting money before career development.
Kilmarnock legend Pascali, however, begs to differ.
He was 26 – and had never played outside his native Italy – when he moved to Rugby Park in 2008.
When he left seven years later, it was as club captain, with 198 appearances to his credit.
“The experience in Scotland was one of the most beautiful and important of my life,” he said.
“When I left Italy, I was in the middle of my career. Now I can say that I absolutely made the right choice.
“I loved being in Scotland, and especially enjoyed the relationship you can create with the fans, which was fantastic.
“They would speak every time they met me in the pub or at the supermarket. It was always affectionate, but never intrusive.
“So it was by moving abroad that I matured as a player and as a man.
“If I had not made the decision to go to Kilmarnock, I would not have been the footballer I became.”
As Pascali recalled, he had another Italian well known to Scottish football fans – former Rangers defender, Sergio Porrini – to thank for his opportunity.
“I remember it well,” said the 36-year-old who is now playing with Serie C outfit, Cosenza, back in his homeland.
“I had just left for the holidays with my friends.
“The season with Foligno in Serie C1 had been fantastic, and we had even reached the play-offs to go up to Serie B.
“I had given everything, as I always do, and I did not want to hear any more about football throughout the summer.
“So I went on vacation. But fate had something else in store for me.
“The day after my arrival in Formentera, I received a phone call. The Kilmarnock scout was in Italy, in Lucca, and had asked for me.
“I learned then that Sergio Porrini, my former team-mate at Pizzighettone, was the intermediary. They wanted me to join them for a trial.
“I did not think twice. I told friends that it was a big opportunity, packed up and went back to Italy.
“I was fit, and after some training we found the deal.”
A deal that was to work out perfectly for both parties.
“I have so many wonderful memories of my years at Kilmarnock,” said Pascali.
“We had seven really intense seasons, in which many things happened.
“Among the highlights was manager Jim Jefferies handing me the captain’s armband.
“It was something I hadn’t even thought about up to that point.
“But the moment came when one was needed, and Jim said that although there were many of my team-mates who had been in the team for many years, I was the one who should take the responsibility.
“It was a beautiful moment for me.
“Scoring the winning goal against Rangers at Rugby Park is another special memory.
“And, of course, in my time there we won the League Cup, beating Celtic in the 2012 Final at Hampden Park.
“That was an unbelievable joy for everyone connected with Kilmarnock.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t play in the match because of injury. But I 100% feel that it was my trophy.
“I played in all the other ties and, though I wasn’t on the pitch, I believe I still had an influence in the Final.
“I say that because, in the build-up, I always stayed with the team, I went to the training camp, and I attended all the meetings. I did not miss a minute.
“My only small regret is that I could not stay with Kilmarnock for 10 seasons because I would have loved to have had a Testimonial Year. Too bad.
“But my relationship with Kilmarnock has remained beautiful. I know they even put a plaque with my name on it at the stadium, inserting me in the Hall of Fame. If I think about it, I get chills.
“Unfortunately, I have not been able to see it yet, but I want to do it as soon as possible.
“I have two children and I’m proud to show them what their dad did at Kilmarnock.
“For now, I still have football to play but I will definitely return one day.”
If David Bates can make a similar impact at the Volksparkstadion to Pascali’s time at Rugby Park, the young Scot’s move will have been vindicated.