Tuesday October 8 2019
Immobile: 'I owe Italy a debt'

Ciro Immobile feels he owes “a debt to Italy and hope to repay it with interest both against Greece and above all at Euro 2020.”

The Azzurri host Greece on Saturday evening and then take on Liechtenstein, with Euro 2020 qualification within their grasp.

“I have always worked to reach the level of the great strikers like Sergio Aguero and Robert Lewandowski, but unfortunately missed opportunities to make that extra step up,” said the Lazio hitman in his Press conference.

“It wasn’t just my fault that we didn’t qualify for the World Cup in a year when I scored 41 goals at club level. I’ve scored many goals in Serie A for years, was top scorer in the Europa League with Lazio, but I want records for the Nazionale too.

“I owe a debt to Italy and hope to repay it with interest both on Saturday at the Olimpico and above all at the Euros. It’d be even more exciting for me to score a goal for the Nazionale at the Stadio Olimpico, especially as it’d be my first game there, as I was injured when we hosted Argentina.”

Immobile is likely to be in a duel for a starting spot with Torino striker Andrea Belotti, but if Mario Balotelli rediscovers his form at Brescia, there will be even more competition.

“I think competition is healthy both for individual players and the team. I get along well with Il Gallo (Belotti) and know it’s a tricky role. There’s a long way to go before next summer and many players will have the chance to wear the Italy jersey.”

Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri have a much more attacking focus and look for quality in their football.

“When we missed out on the World Cup, I’d score goals, but I wasn’t happy,” confessed Immobile.

“I wore this shirt and felt I had to give more, but that was damaging, because it took energy out of me and I couldn’t fully focus because I was so eager.”

The Lazio forward went 10 games without finding the net for Italy until breaking that drought in a qualifier.

“I thank Mancini, as he waited for me to emerge from moments of difficulty and when I scored against Finland, it was like a weight off my shoulders. You will have probably noticed that in my celebration and now I can experience international duty in this extraordinary group of players in a different way.

“We raised our heads, are doing well and want to win every game going towards the Euros with confidence. We don’t have a particularly physical midfield, so it’s important to play the ball to feet, duet with technique, open up spaces to help the wingers and midfielders.

“We want the people to love this team the way we love it from the inside.”

Italy were today training with their new green kit, which will be worn for the first time against Greece this weekend, only the second time they’ve worn green since 1954.

“It’s unusual. Our colour is blue, but this is a third kit, so we are proud to wear it. Hopefully we’ll get the same result as in 1954, when Italy beat Argentina 2-0 at the Olimpico.”

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