Stephan El Shaarawy was overjoyed with his first senior Italy goal and “hopes” he and Mario Balotelli can be the pairing of the future.
“It was an important goal for me, though sadly not enough to get a result tonight. It was against a truly strong side, so on a personal level I am very satisfied,” he said of the 2-1 defeat to France.
The Little Pharaoh started in a trident attack with Balotelli and Antonio Candreva.
“Mario is a great player who can also give you goal scoring opportunities. Riccardo Montolivo gave me a great pass and I nutmegged the goalkeeper, so it was a wonderful goal.
“I hope we can be the pairing of the future. I am going through a good period right now and hope it continues.
“I found it difficult with the 4-3-3 when I gathered with my back to goal, as France are very physical and made it tough for me to turn.
“I like playing wide left, it is the role I prefer the most, and allows me to alternate attacking and defending.
“The Coach asked me to help out the team, even go back to the edge of my own box if necessary, and I am at his disposal.”
El Shaarawy is one of several Under-21 players who have been upgraded by Cesare Prandelli, as Marco Verratti started tonight and Alessandro Florenzi made his debut.
“All these young players are up to the task of playing a game like this, as they are doing well for their clubs and even the senior Italy squad should focus on youth.”
The Milan striker was then asked if he thought Balotelli might be his teammate next season at club level too.
“Mario is a player who would be welcome at any club, as he is a real talent with strength and technique. Montolivo has immense quality and can move the ball around beautifully, so is doing well for Italy and Milan.”