Ciro Immobile has revealed that he refused offers from the Saudi Pro League over the summer in order to prioritise staying in favour with the Italian national team.
The Azzurri will face North Macedonia in a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday, with Luciano Spalletti taking charge of his first game as Italy coach after replacing Roberto Mancini, who resigned from the position earlier this year.
Immobile has been named as the new national team captain, news that he has described as a 'dream come true'.
Speaking to Radio RAI and FIGC's social media, Immobile said that losing the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off against North Macedonia was 'the most painful defeat' of his career.
'It is going to be very difficult tomorrow, we will try not to make the same mistakes, be very humble and concentrated,' he added.
'We are assimilating the instructions of the coach and know that we need to be ready for these games. Training has been very different, as the coach likes to dialogue with both individual players and the group. He makes sure everyone feels involved and that is especially important when you don't get to see each other very often,' Immobile said.
The Lazio star was linked with a number of moves away over the summer, particularly to Saudi Arabia, with him reportedly receiving an attractive proposal from the Saudi Pro League, the league his former teammate Sergej Milinkovic-Savic headed to.
Immobile has unveiled why he refused the bid, saying: 'I said no because I wanted to continue experiencing these moments with the Nazionale.'
'I still have much to give Italy and the Euros are coming up pretty soon, so I have to give my best right away,' he said.
At the age of 33, Immobile is nearing the latter stages of his career, and while he made his debut for the national team back in 2014, he has been relatively underwhelming at international level, scoring 16 goals and providing eight assists in 56 caps. However, he has been impressive for Lazio over the year, with his 195 career league goals ranking him in eighth in the Serie A all-time top scorers list.
With his new responsibilities, can Immobile help revitalise his career, and the Azzurri as a whole?