Cagliari forward Marco Sau made his Italy debut and admits he “cares a great deal about playing for my homeland” in Sardinia.
The 25-year-old was born and raised in Sardinia, going through their youth academy, but this was his first Serie A season and garnered 12 goals.
“I am still very close to my home, as I still have so many friends and relatives there,” he told Vivo Azzurro.
“I love everything about Sardinia, as it’s a fantastic place both inland and on the coast with such beautiful scenery. It’s impossible to leave.
“In today’s football it is unusual to feel so close to a place, but as a Sardinian I care a great deal about playing for my homeland, for Cagliari.
“My dream is to be here in Serie A and in the Nazionale. I won’t get complacent, as I always try to improve.
“My idol as a child was Gianfranco Zola. I was already a Cagliari fan at the time, but when he played for Parma I also supported them.
“I was very excited at scoring on my Serie A debut, although at the same time I remained concentrated and wanted to do well for the team. My favourite goal was the one I scored against Napoli.”
Sau also explained his rather unusual nickname: Pattolino.
“It’s an old story. My cousin as a child couldn’t say my name Marco, as he only managed to say Patto, so from that my family called me Pattolino – Little Patto.”