West Ham United defender Angelo Ogbonna admits he does not know whether his absence from the Italy squad is “political or technical”.
Ogbonna has not appeared for Italy since September 2016, when he played 28 minutes of their 3-1 win against Israel, and the former Juventus stopper suggested the grounds for his omission had similarities with those of fellow Euro 2012 finalist Mario Balotelli.
“I think I’ve changed a lot in England, especially in terms of character,” he told Corriere della Sera.
“I take things more head-on, while in Italy I was more ‘coddled’ in my comfort zone. Going abroad has made me stronger.
“Do I regret leaving Inter? Never. Of course I miss Cassino, where I grew up, and Turin, where I spent my teenage years.
“If I am what I am, it’s thanks to these two experiences, but I don’t miss the excessive controversy.
“Premier League different to Serie A? Totally. In Italy, you defend as part of a unit, while in England, you do so much more individually.
“There’s also more technical and physical quality here [in England]. Of course, the risk of making individual mistakes is greater, but there’s also the possibility to grow: many of the best strikers in the world play here.
“National team? To tell you the truth, I don’t know if my absence for the past year is political or technical.
“Before thinking about the national team, the FIGC needs reform. That aside, it’s become a habit for me not to be considered, a bit like Balotelli.
“I go by the Coach’s decisions. Mario and I started the Azzurri path together, but I think I’m still part of the national team, even if I’m not being called up.
“Opti Poba? That gaffe could’ve let us go in a different direction. What annoys you is that even evidence isn’t enough.
“[Tavecchio] pretended nothing happened and went on, even after a phrase that didn’t make me particularly happy.”
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