Undoubtedly one of the most recognisable figures in the Azzurri's UEFA EURO 2008 squad, Gennaro Gattuso was a starter in the opening 3-0 mauling by the Netherlands, before sitting out the 1-1 draw against Romania. And the combative AC Milan midfielder is also set to miss his side's quarter-final clash with Spain after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament - the 700th in European Championship history - in the 2-0 success over France.

In the wake of the victory that sent his team through to the knockout stages, the 30-year-old sat down with FIFA.com to discuss the performance against Les Bleus and Italy's prospects for the remainder of the competition.

FIFA.com: Gennaro, isn't it a minor miracle that Italy are still in the tournament?
Gattuso:
Losing 3-0 to the Netherlands made things really difficult for us, but I have to say that the support of our fans has helped us a lot. It's thanks to them that we never stopped believing.

Prior to the tournament, you said you couldn't wait to play againstFrance. Why was that?
Yes I did, but it was nothing to do with Domenech (editor's note: the Italian player and the French coach have been conducting a war of words via the media). I wanted to play against them because they have top-quality players and we hadn't beaten them outright for thirty years, so it was a real challenge.

How do you feel about missing the next game?
I'm disappointed of course, but I don't believe any one player can make all the difference. It's the team as a unit that counts, and I can assure you that whoever plays will give their all, because they're great professionals and have a wealth of experience. For my own part, I'm just happy to be part of the squad and this whole experience. I support my team-mates 200 per cent.

What changed between the first two matches and theFrancegame?
It's hard to say. I think that against the Netherlands, their tactics and the speed of their forwards caught us by surprise. Even so, we conceded the third goal just as we were starting to create a lot of chances.

Next up is Spain. Could this match be billed as youth versus experience?
I'm not sure we can really talk about "youth" as such, because all the Spanish players already have years of Champions League experience, for example. We know they're a technically gifted side who deserve plenty of respect. But we also that we'll have to play to our own strengths: desire and tactical acumen.