Alberto Gilardino scored his 19th Italy goal to beat Bulgaria, but is still “a little angry, as I could’ve scored a second.”
The Genoa striker is just one shy of 1982 World Cup winner Paolo Rossi’s total for the Azzurri.
“I am a little angry, as I could’ve scored a second today and matched Rossi’s tally. I should’ve been sharper and gone right round the goalkeeper,” he told Rai Sport.
He celebrated with his traditional violin gesture, kneeling to play for the crowd.
“Who did I play the violin for? Myself. I never gave up and always continued working, so I can still improve at the age of 31 and do well for my country. That’s the important thing, not what people say in the papers.
“We struggled, it was a battle and we played well in the first half, while they created a few more problems for us after the break.
“If you win games like this then it means you have a solid group with character. We knew Bulgaria were tough, had quality and to be honest they caused us more trouble than we expected. Gigi saved us on more than one occasion, but the lads all gave over 110 per cent.
“Bulgaria moved the ball around well and put us under pressure in some areas of the pitch. It was crucial that we were able to suffer and still secure the victory.”
Gilardino received a rare start against Bulgaria because Mario Balotelli and Dani Osvaldo were both injured.
“I am focused on playing and scoring goals. The choices are down to the Coach. The real strength of this Italy is the squad, as we all contribute.”
The Azzurri are now seven points clear at the top of Group B and face the Czech Republic in Turin’s Juventus Stadium on Tuesday evening.
“Tonight we feel a little more Brazilian… On Tuesday we have another important game in a wonderful stadium.”