3/22/2019 10:39:35 AM

Quagliarella, 36, finding his place among Italy's young guns

Quagliarella, 36, finding his place among Italy

Milan, Italy: At 36, Fabio Quagliarella has put his years of torment at the hands of a stalker behind him as he prepares to line up for Italy over eight years after his last cap thanks to the best season of his career in Serie A, where he is the top scorer ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Even if Roberto Mancini is focusing on youth as he rebuilds the Azzurri after their failure to qualify for last year's World Cup, the Italy coach could not ignore Quagliarella's remarkable performance with Sampdoria where he has scored 21 goals in 28 games, two more than Ronaldo and Polish sensation Krzysztof Piatek. 

The veteran could earn his 26th cap -- eight and a half years after his last -- in Italy's Euro 2020 Group J qualifiers against Finland on March 23 in Udine or Liechtenstein in Parma three days later.

"I may be the oldest of the group, but I'm living everything with great enthusiasm and serenity," Quagliarella told Rai Sport on Thursday.

"I'm now at an age where you also know how to manage emotions."

Quagliarella insists that he has earned his place among the elite.

"This is the Italian national team, there's no need to give caps away. If the coach calls up certain players, it's because he's convinced they can give a big hand and that's why I'm here," he said.

"Being called up by the Azzurri is a great source of satisfaction. There are so many strong young players with great personalities and for me it's nice to be here, even if I'm playing it by ear.

"I'm trying to carve out my space."

Mancini's side have been hit by injuries with Fiorentina striker Federico Chiesa ruled out, with Quagliarella providing an option alongside Federico Bernardeschi and Ciro Immobile.

Mancini could also opt for Juventus forward Moise Kean, at 19 the youngest member of the group, who has already made his debut in a friendly against the United States last November.

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