Saturday September 3 2016
Pelle: 'I'm through with penalties'

Graziano Pelle looks forward to Israel-Italy, but won't take any more penalties after Euro 2016.

The striker enjoyed a solid tournament, although it was marred by a failed attempt at a chipped penalty in the quarter-finals against Germany.

The Azzurro moved to China after the tournament, but he is still more than available for the national team.

“The first thing my father told me was to respect the team that changed my life,” Pelle reported, in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “But a choice like this one, with the economic consequences it entails, doesn't keep me from getting called up again.

“I can still come here and show that I want to represent the Azzurri.”

Pelle then looked back at his experience in Euro 2016, including that infamous missed penalty.

“Sometimes mistakes can be made. And we are public figures, so everyone can say what they like. But I laughed at the idea that I was disrespecting [Manuel] Neuer. If most Italians were as respectful of others as I am, the country would be a better place.

“I wanted to shoot that penalty strong and on the left, the side where I missed. I made that gesture to keep Neuer from diving early, but when I went to take it I saw that he'd already leapt and I had to force my shot.

“The level of Chinese football? There's a maximum of three foreigners per team. They're all excellent players, whether their names be Hulk, [Ezequiel] Lavezzi or Jackson Martinez. The real difference is made by the strong Chinese players.

“The quality of the game isn't as high, but it's untrue that scoring is easier. In Italy you get better service and you have more chances to score.”

Italy have a tough qualification route to the World Cup in 2018, having been drawn in a group together with powerhouses Spain.

“That's what the group looks like, we can't hide from that. And anyway, we are Italy. Our clubs have a tougher pre-season and at the beginning we suffer, but we have no excuses to play a poor match in Israel. We must go there and take home a result.

“Penalties? No, I haven't been taking any even in China. There are others who can take them better than I can.”