Monday October 13 2014
Pelle: 'Prandelli dismissed me'

Graziano Pellè was self-critical after scoring on his Italy debut, praised Antonio Conte, slammed Cesare Prandelli and Malta.

The Southampton striker bundled over the line during tonight’s 1-0 victory in Malta, his senior Azzurri debut at the age of 29.

“I am 29, not 39, so I’m not that old!” he laughed on Rai Sport.

“I am happy, everyone has a different journey and I am glad I got here, especially as to score is the most important thing for a striker. I had another chance too and it’s a shame that one didn’t go in.

“On the one hand it’s positive, but on the other I am very harsh on myself, as I could’ve done a lot better. I know that I can take a shot first time and not take an extra touch, so I ought to do that more.

“I got along well with Ciro (Immobile) and we worked with the Coach during the week to find new options.”

Italy struggled against the minnows, but Pellè blamed Malta for their overly-negative attitude.

“I come from the Premier League, where the tempo is very high. It’s not great to face a side like Malta. There were three minutes to go, but they were 1-0 down and should at least have tried. I am not a fan of this football.

“It’s true we ought to finish our chances more, but Malta kept eight men behind the ball and it was not easy to find a way through them. They didn’t even attempt to play football.

“Our opponents are certainly not stupid. Holland were fresh from the World Cup and played open football, so they didn’t know how to face us. After that, the other teams studied us and found a different approach to limit our football.”

Pellè had been completely ignored by the Italy squad and Prandelli until now, despite scoring 50 goals in two seasons in Holland.

“I do not judge the choices of a Coach. I know full well there are many strikers who deserve to play for Italy, but I scored 50 goals in Holland and many of them were good too. I didn’t expect to be called, but I did expect a little more consideration.”

Pellè is from Lecce, the same area as Italy boss Conte.

“He’s a great guy and we really get along well, so I’m glad to work with Conte after Van Gaal and Koeman.

“I am very happy to work with Koeman, but I am Italian and so proud to be wearing the Azzurri jersey. I hope I get the opportunity to wear it again.”

Pellè was also famously the Italian Latin-American dance champion at the age of 13.

“My mother wanted me to dance, my father wanted me to play football, so I did both. I always loved music and at the time I enjoyed it, but I never skipped training to dance. I skipped training because at age 11 I preferred to play with my friends rather than listen to the Coach... especially as the Coach was my uncle!”

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