Giampaolo Pazzini came off the bench to score Italy's winner against Slovenia. “I wanted to prove I'm still here and fighting for a place.”
His strike was the 700th goal scored for Italy and secured qualification to Euro 2012.
“It was only my third Italy goal and I did it here in Florence, so that was truly a wonderful evening,” said the Inter striker who was originally benched.
“The Coach has always given me a lot of attention. Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi are doing well, so no controversy, but I wanted to prove I am still here and fighting for a place. I consider myself an important player and am doing well.
“It's an important goal that mathematically puts us in Euro 2012. After a bit of a disappointing game against the Faroe Islands, it was important we put qualification beyond doubt.”
The game changed when Mario Balotelli and Pazzini came off the bench, changing to a 4-3-3 system.
“Rossi and Cassano are different players. I've played with Antonio many times, but in my view he's a support striker, whereas Rossi may be short but he's more of a centre-forward. I was also impressed with Mario for the impact he had on the game.
“We tried to score throughout and were unlucky on occasions, but the team wanted to win tonight and put qualification beyond doubt.”