Mattia Destro admits he felt “anxious” before receiving the World Cup call due to injury and a four-match ban.
The Roma striker is included in Cesare Prandelli’s provisional 30-man squad for Italy, pushing out the likes of Alberto Gilardino and Luca Toni.
“It’s true, I was quite anxious before, but now I am very happy to be in the list of 30,” Destro told Rai Sport.
He had missed the first half of the season with a knee injury, but recovered to score 13 goals in just 19 Serie A appearances.
“The injury was horrible because it forced me to stay out for such a long time, but the belief in my abilities was fundamental and pushed me to work very hard so I could earn this call.
“Self-esteem is important and I have great self-belief, so in difficult moments that enables you to get great results.
“I want to thank Rudi Garcia and my Roma teammates. Garcia had a big impact on me, as he put his faith in me and that was important.”
Destro’s Italy call-up was again put into doubt when he violated the ‘code of ethics’ with a four-match ban after he was caught on camera lashing out an elbow on Cagliari defender Davide Astori.
“Let’s just say that without the ban I could’ve shown even more of what I can do, but that was the decision made by the Disciplinary Commission.
“That kind of incident is seen often during a game, as you go into a challenge with a bit too much sporting aggression to be sure of getting the ball. Was it a nasty gesture? Absolutely not.
“I am against the use of video evidence in games, as I think there are enough referees to judge a situation.”
Destro was prolific at Under-21 level, although he disputes his reputation as being a little argumentative.
“It’s not true. Let’s just say I have a particular personality, as I am an introvert and keep myself to myself. I am the same on the pitch, but during a game I give all of myself.
“I am sure it will be a spectacular World Cup. Italy have a very strong team and a wonderful group of people.
“Prandelli is a talented, well-prepared Coach who has already shown his qualities.”
Destro is not sure of a place in the final squad of 23 yet, as he must prove himself against the likes of Giuseppe Rossi, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Antonio Cassano.
“I am very happy for Rossi, as I know what it’s like to come off a long injury lay-off. There is a lot of competition, as all the forwards called up had a great season. We’ll fight it out in the Coverciano training camp.”