Conte happy to pick players born outside Italy
23 March 2015, 21:41
Rome - Italy coach Antonio Conte believes that players of Italian descent should be free to decide whether they want to play for the "azzurri".
Conte's latest call-ups, Argentine-born Franco Vazquez and Brazilian-born Eder, have caused a stir in Italy even though both players possess Italian passports.
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"I'm not the first (to call-up a player of Italian descent) and I won't be last," Conte told a news conference on Monday.
"In the past (Mauro) Camoranesi won the World Cup with Italy. (Christian) Ledesma, (Gabriel) Paletta, Thiago Motta, Amauri and Romulo all played with the national team.
"At the last World Cup, of the 736 players that took part 83 were born in a different country from the one they were playing for," Conte added.
Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini expressed a different opinion earlier on Monday.
"I believe that an Italian player deserves to play for Italy," Mancini said.
"Anyone who wasn't born in Italy, even though he may have Italian relatives, shouldn't be allowed to play. At least this is my opinion."
Conte said Vazquez had made it clear right from the start that he wanted to represent Italy.
"It's not that I forced him to accept," the coach added.
Vazquez's mother was born in Padua and Eder's great grand- father was from Treviso.
Italy travel to Bulgaria for a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday and host England in Turin three days later in a friendly.
Conte's team are second in Group H, behind Croatia on goal difference with 10 points from four games.