In modern times it has become the norm in many sports for people to magically change nationality so that they can be part of a team that gives them the best chance to compete at the highest levels. South African cricketers, Pacific Island rugby players, a Kenyan cyclist are amongst those who found a way to become British when it suited them and the selecters for national teams. Whatever happened to Zola Budd by the way?
Back through the mists of time to my school days and tales of the great naval explorers; Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and John Cabot, who was the first European since the Vikings to land in North America as part of an expedition commissioned by Henry VII of England. I never gave his nationality a second thought; an English expedition led by a man called John. What was to question?
Except that to the Italians he is known as Giovanni Cabot. His precise birthplace in Italy isn’t known. It wasn’t Venice, but he was a respected citizen of the Republic by the time he reached his early twenties, at which point he was known in the Venetian tongue as Zuan Chabotto. In this naval super-power he developed his maritime skills.
In the late 15th Century, England was no ruler of the waves, so Henry had to buy in overseas talent to boost his team. It was his son (Henry VIII) who was to found the Royal Navy.
All of which explains why an Italian man, who sailed for a Tudor king, is commemorated in La Serenissima.