Thiago Motta insists he has no regrets about choosing to play for Italy rather than Brazil. “I feel Italian.”
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is expected to start against Costa Rica in Friday’s Group D game, kicking off at 17.00 UK time (16.00 GMT).
Born in Brazil, he has been jeered by some local fans for opting to wear the Azzurri jersey.
“I like playing football, that’s all,” said Thiago Motta in today’s Press conference.
“I was born in Brazil, but I feel Italian. It is a pleasure to step on to the field, to play a World Cup in Brazil and above all to play in a great national team.
“Now the sensation is difficult to explain. When time has passed, I’ll be able to describe how I felt during this tournament.
“I left Brazil very early in my life, as I was only 15. I spent a lot of time in Spain and became accustomed to the European style of living and playing.
“I have the fortune and privilege of an Italian family and therefore was able to play for Italy. My father was born in Brazil, but my grandfather was Italian from Rovigo.
“I feel like an Italian who happened to be born in Brazil and I am very happy with that situation. It never entered my mind to come back to Brazil once I left for Europe.
“I didn’t have the same desire that the Brazilians, who I respect a great deal, had to wear the Seleçao jersey. This experience has helped me grow as a player and as a man.”
Yet Thiago Motta does not play his club football in Italy, as he left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain.
“My time at Inter was wonderful and with other players I made history for that club, but now they are trying to build a new team with a new President.
“I am very happy at PSG and have no particular intention of moving soon, but in future why couldn’t I return to Italy? You can never say never.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!