Andrea Bertolacci scored a crucial goal against Norway and put himself forward for a role in Italy’s European Under-21 Championship.
The Azzurrini were trailing 1-0 in stoppages until Roma and Genoa owned Bertolacci acrobatically flicked the ball over his head to loop into the far top corner.
“I am happy for the goal, but above all for the result,” Bertolacci told Rai Sport after the 1-1 draw allowed Italy to top the group.
“I’m also glad that I sent a signal I am here. This team can stand out from the rest also due to its character, as we are very determined and bring out our strength in the difficult moments.
“I had my back to goal, but I knew where it was, so a great goal came out of it. As for my celebration, I was making an N symbol for my girlfriend, Nicole.
“I knew that I had to prove my quality here today. I have always said that I am not a trequartista, while both Gigi De Canio and Gigi Del Neri used me as a central midfielder at Genoa. I only acted behind the strikers under Davide Ballardini, but I was a ‘false’ trequartista.”
Italy win the group and will face the runners-up in Group B, who will be either Spain or Holland.
“As things stand we are proving in terms of quality and determination that we want to aim high. We must be more consistent, but we can go far.
“Spain or Holland? It’s irrelevant to me as long as we play the way we know that we can.”