Angelo Ogbonna admits he was “surprised” when receiving his first senior Italy call to face the Republic of Ireland.
The Torino defender has already starred for the Under-21 side, but was added to Cesare Prandelli's squad when Alberto Aquilani pulled out injured.
“I was surprised by this call and I absolutely did not expect it,” confessed Ogbonna.
“I am very happy and excited, as it's like living a dream. Giorgio Chiellini was the first to compliment me on getting here, as we play in the same city.
“I have known him and Andrea Ranocchia from our Under-21 days, so they helped me to settle in.”
Ogbonna was born in Italy of Nigerian parents and grew up in the Torino youth academy, so has made it to the Azzurri side despite playing in Serie B.
“I never waited for a call from Nigeria. Having been born here and growing up in Italy, I always considered myself to be Italian.
“Thankfully I have never been subjected to racist and ignorant attitudes.”