Patrick Cutrone did not believe he could become an Italy international, until the AC Milan striker experienced a breakout season in Serie A this term.
The 20-year-old had made just one substitute first-team appearance before this campaign, but he has quickly established himself as a key player at San Siro, scoring 15 goals in all competitions.
And as Cutrone prepares for his senior Italy debut - called up to the squad to play friendlies against Argentina and England - he has revealed his rise to prominence felt unlikely just 12 months ago.
"[Milan coach Gennaro] Gattuso has given me a little bit of his character, but I always had a competitive nastiness and a desire to score," the forward told a news conference.
"Last year I was in the [Milan] Primavera and I honestly didn't think I'd get to this point, [but] I showed what I could do and trained hard. The coaches helped me a lot - from those in the youth team to [Vincenzo] Montella and Gattuso.
"Dreams never end, especially for us youngsters. I hope to make my debut soon.
"I still haven't achieved anything, though. My parents help me a lot and keep my feet on the ground. This is an opportunity and I'll try not to waste it. I want to train well and improve. This is a starting point and I want to do more and more."
Congratulazioni, Patrick! Prima convocazione in Nazionale maggiore!— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 17, 2018
This really has to be #StPatricksDay for you, Patrick Cutrone!
Congrats on your first call-up with the @Azzurri https://t.co/0ueGTOd5OH
Italy face Argentina on Friday and Cutrone is relishing the prospect of taking on Barcelona great Lionel Messi.
"It will be an honour to face him," Cutrone added. "He is football."
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