Italy defender Giovanni Di Lorenzo says the Azzurri have ‘one more duty’ against England, the first match of the national team after Gianluca Vialli’s death: ‘We feel his absence.’



The Napoli and Italy defender spoke at a press conference attended by Football Italia on Tuesday. The first question was about Argentine-born forward Mateo Retegui who has been given his first call-up with the Azzurri.

“He presented himself well, beyond his technical qualities, you can tell he is a nice guy so we’ve tried to make him feel at ease,” said Di Lorenzo.

Italy will face England for the third time in less than two years on Thursday. Is this Italy squad the weakest that has played against the Three Lions recently?

“I don’t think so, surely the group has changed, but we have quality players who are mentally strong. We’ll face them to the best of our possibilities, knowing that we’ll meet a strong opponent.”

Thursday’s match at the Stadio Maradona will also be Italy’s first game since the death of Gianluca Vialli who had covered the role of delegation chief.

“We feel his absence, but he left us something nice,” said Di Lorenzo.

“Every time he spoke everyone was listening to him. He was deep and we miss him. This will be the first match without him, so we have one more duty, which is to give something more, also for him.”

Di Lorenzo’s Napoli are dominating in Serie A, so which are the Partenopei’s characteristics that this Italy side should also have?

“Aside from our playing style, we have fun on the pitch and this was the same here during the Euros,” the defender admitted.

“Perhaps, we lost a bit of enthusiasm here, due to some results and this is something we must regain. I hope I can bring a little of Napoli here.

“Surely, coach Mancini has given me the chance to make my Italy debut which is something every player dreams of. I like Spalletti because he doesn’t look at the names, but only those who deserve it play. Spalletti has given me so much and as I’ve already said he deserves the credit for this growth. He’s made me develop as a player.

“I’ve improved a lot over the last few years, as a player and as a person,” he continued.

“Playing for a top club like Napoli helps because we face strong opponents all the time. As for the Stadio Maradona, I hope there will be the same involvement I see during Napoli games. I know these fans well so I hope the atmosphere against England will be great because it can help us reach an important result.

“England are a top team, they have great players, and we’ve faced them many times. We won the last meeting at San Siro playing a great game, we must give our best to have a strong start in the Euro qualifiers.”

Di Lorenzo is already the Napoli captain, does he dream of covering the same role for the national team one day?

“There are precise hierarchies here and I don’t think about it. There are players who’ve been here for a long time. I am happy to be the Napoli captain, it’s an important role which I am trying to deserve.”

Roberto Mancini has complained about the lack of playing times for Italian players in Serie A, what’s Di Lorenzo’s view on the matter?

“I think there are young players emerging, but if we see at Serie A, it’s true that there aren’t many Italians on the pitch. However, I don’t think our tradition has gone lost. They just have to develop from a very young age.

“I don’t think it has to do with sacrifice. There are many players in the lower leagues who didn’t manage to reach Serie A for different reasons. Everyone has his own path. Personally, mine was difficult and made of sacrifices. It depends on the people you find along the way and I was lucky. I think there are good Italian players who must take the right path to get to the top.”

Mancini tried Di Lorenzo in a three-man defence yesterday, would he feel more at ease in a three-man backline or playing wide in a five-man midfield?

“I think the full-back role has evolved. I think I can cover both roles, it wouldn’t be a problem to play in defence or in midfield,” he concluded.

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