Wednesday September 18 2013
Martinho opens Italy door

Verona’s Brazilian midfielder Raphael Martinho has made himself available to the Italian national side – even if he concedes a possible call-up may be some way off.

The 25-year-old was born in Campo Grande, but his Italian ancestry means he does have the paperwork necessary to play for the Azzurri.

“I have an Italian passport because of my great grandfather,” the former Cesena player told Tele Nuovo.

“It is my dream to make it to the national side and I would certainly accept a call from Italy boss Cesare Prandelli if he selects me.

“However, I do think that I have a long road to go down in my footballing career.”

Martinho moved to Italy in the summer of 2010 after he was snapped up by Catania, who later loaned him to Cesena.

He initially joined Hellas Verona in 2012 on loan, but the Gialloblu took up their option to buy a 50 per cent share in him at the end of last season.

Martinho scored his first Serie A goal in the 2-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.