Nazionale A

Italy vs. England. Immobile: “Wearing this shirt means everything, I'll continue to be available until I'm not needed”

The Lazio striker, who with eight goals is the top scorer in Mancini's reign, thought about retiring after being unjustly criticised for not qualifying for the World Cup. "I realised that it shouldn't be others who decide my fate, I still have lots to give"

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Italy vs. England. Immobile: “Wearing this shirt means everything, I'll continue to be available until I'm not needed”

As the only Italian to be the top goalscorer in Serie A four times, a Golden Boot award in 2020, like two other Italians before him (Luca Toni and Francesco Totti), and a European winner with the Azzurri, Ciro Immobile doesn't need to answer anything to his detractors. The numbers speak for themselves: 198 goals in Serie A, only two away from becoming ninth on the all-time goalscorers list occupied by Del Piero, Signori and Gilardino. He has scored 15 times in 55 appearances in Azzurri colours, and has eight goals to his name during the Mancini reign, along with Barella and Belotti. But there are critics out there blaming him for not having the same success in front of goal for Italy as he does for his club: "Maybe at Lazio, there's more margin for error and it annoys me that I've been the top-scorer in Serie A four times but with Italy not got as many goals," he said in his press conference. "The way we set up means nothing, whatever the Head Coach chooses is more than fine by me. I ask myself almost on a daily basis why I haven't been able to get as many goals for Italy. At times, when you want to do well, it can actually make you make more errors. Wearing this shirt means everything, and I'll continue to be available until the Head Coach doesn't need me anymore." 

The disappointment from missing out on World Cup qualification is still there and after the play-off defeat to Macedonia, Immobile admitted to thinking about retiring after receiving many critical comments: "As the weeks passed by, I realised that I couldn't let others decide my fate and, thanks also to my Club, I decided that I still had more to give. The World Cup is a long way off, I'm obviously not getting any younger, but if my physical condition remains as it is I know I can still offer something. The criticism didn't bother me that much but I didn't like the difference between being accredited as a striker for not qualifying for the World Cup and not as one for being a European winner."   

Rightly looking ahead to Friday's match with England, on one hand it brings back memories of that triumph at Wembley just over a year ago, yet on the other, it takes Italy back to the stadium where entry to the 2018 World Cup was squandered: "Thinking about that Italy vs. Sweden play-off game at San Siro, it doesn't bring back good memories. I expect a really tough game against England, who play good football and are physically strong. It will be one of their last games prior to the World Cup, but we know we have to give our fans something to cheer about, who are rightly disappointed with missing out on the World Cup. In our most difficult moments, the National side has always been united, during the Euros we saw how the whole of the country came together. We need to restart from that, our fans must have that memory etched in their minds so as to have faith in us. This is an important starting point, without forgetting the difficulties, that inevitably make you stronger." There's still space for a couple more dreams, the Scudetto with Lazio and the World Cup in the Americas: "As captain, i cannot go out saying we're going to win the title, but every year at the start of pre-season I always think it. I'm not saying that I think Lazio will win the Scudetto, but it is a team that's getting better. The World Cup in the Americas is one of my objectives, I'm used to not setting myself limits."

Two days ago, Roberto Mancini underlined the shortage of Italian forwards available to him. And it's no surprise that in Serie A's top 13 scorers for the season, the Lazio striker is the only Italian on the list: "In my opinion, there are some interesting prospects, they need time and space to express themselves; I'm talking about Scamacca, Pellegri, Pinamonti. Raspadori has already been to the Euros with us and has some experience at this level. Gianluca has decided to go and play in the Premier League, which is a hard decision so he needs to be given time. They need to score with their club sides, which will give them the confidence here. I've worked my way up and cut my teeth, the young players need to start to do it as well. I started off at Sorrento and went all the way through the leagues. Seeing the pressure on these young lads today, the process is quickened up and time isn't given to develop".

Squad List

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint Germain), Alex Meret (Napoli), Ivan Provedel (Lazio), Guglielmo Vicario (Empoli);
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Inter), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Emerson Palmieri (West Ham), Federico Gatti (Juventus), Luiz Felipe (Real Betis), Pasquale Mazzocchi (Salernitana), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta);
Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Salvatore Esposito (SPAL), Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo), Jorginho (Chelsea), Tommaso Pobega (Milan), Sandro Tonali (Milan);
Fowards: Matteo Cancellieri (Lazio), Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria), Wilfried Gnonto (Leeds), Vincenzo Grifo (Freiburg), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli), Gianluca Scamacca (West Ham), Alessio Zerbin (Napoli).