Luca Pellegrini was delighted with his full Serie A debut for Roma, especially after a devastating double knee injury.
The 19-year-old had been tipped for great things even earlier, but his career was put on hold by two horrific injuries in July and then December 2017.
After two substitute appearances this season, the hometown Roman was given his full Serie A debut in a 2-0 victory over Empoli.
“The debut is a special moment for everyone. I’m happy because I know how hard I worked to reach this moment,” Pellegrini told Sky Sport Italia.
“Everyone was really helpful, because it’s like a family here. I couldn’t have asked for better preparation and I thank everyone for their support.
“It was difficult after the injury, but that kind of setback makes you realise just how strong you can be mentally. I overcame the double hurdle of first the anterior cruciate ligament, then the fractured kneecap.”
The teenager was asked whose poster he had on his wall growing up.
“Gareth Bale, as at the time he was a full-back. I started out in a more advanced role and then became a full-back, so I had the opposite career path. Now I have a master like Aleksandar Kolarov as a teammate and try to learn everything I can from him.”