Borja Valero has become a fan favourite at Fiorentina, is open to playing for Italy and told Spanish media “this is where I belong.”
The former Villarreal midfielder wore the captain’s armband on Monday for the 4-3 victory over Hellas Verona and bagged a brace.
“I didn’t expect to be captain. The Coach told me just before we left for the stadium and I’m very proud to have worn the armband,” he told Marca.
“I had been captain in the youth team at Real, but never at the professional level in any of my teams. This team doesn’t need motivating, as we all know what we want, but on the field I tried to encourage everyone and fire up the younger players.”
Borja Valero had his first brace since 2008, but turned down the chance to get a hat-trick, handing a penalty over to Giuseppe Rossi.
“The thought of taking the penalty never crossed my mind. Rossi is fighting for the Capocannoniere title and I’m happy he is up there, back among the best. I’m satisfied with two goals.
“I am not surprised by Rossi’s form, as he is a unique player. When the club asked me about him, I said if he returns from injury even half the player he was, he’ll still be miles better than many others in circulation.
“When Mario Gomez gets back, he can give us something that we haven’t had so far, a reference point that can allow Giuseppe to move around seeking other spaces.”
Despite his remarkable performances in Serie A and the Europa League, Borja Valero is continually ignored by Spain.
“That’s always the first thing the Italian journalists ask me, but I try not to think about it. If in the end I get this opportunity, I will see it as a reward. I know it’ll be very tough, if not impossible, as there were some friendlies with midfielders missing and they called up others or even some defenders instead. Ah well, hope springs eternal.
“Could I play for Italy? I don’t think it is legally possible, as I have no passport or Italian family history. You need to be in Italy for at least five years to gain dual citizenship. I don’t know what the situation will be when we get round to Euro 2016...
“I feel appreciated in Italy and I appreciate them in return. I always say each person has to find their place in the world and, perhaps, this is where I feel I belong the most.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!