A confident centre-forward on a goalscoring streak is an integral element to any team, just like the celebratory pizza after a victory - at least as far as the Italian team at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 in Nigeria are concerned.
After their 2-1 round-of-16 win against USA, the Azzurrini were treated to a few 'delicacies' from back home by the accommodating chef at the team's base in Kaduna, and no-one enjoyed the celebratory feast more than Giacomo Beretta. The rising AC Milan star cut a frustrated figure as he failed to get on the scoresheet during the group stage, but he finally broke his duck against the Americans, making Italy doubly confident of going all the way in Nigeria.
"I was so relieved after my goal that I just wanted to run around and hug the whole world," said Beretta to FIFA.com. "I went over to the coach first and gave him a hug to say thank you. Then I ran over to Pietro Iemmello who set my goal up and I thanked him as well. I just wanted to thank everyone for keeping the faith with me. Before the match, the coach Pasquale Salerno came and said to me that he was sure that I was going to score against USA, and that really helped! I needed to prove him right."
The truculent attacker was in the starting line-up for the wins against Uruguay and Korea Republic and was involved in every move up front, putting in the hard yards with his back to the goal and creating openings for his fellow forwards. But while Federico Carraro and Pietro Iemmello found the back of the net, Italy's No9 came away empty-handed. Now, though, the lean spell is over.
"Giacomo is an incredibly important part of the team," said Italy coach Pasquale Salerno to FIFA.com. "He is an incredible player who is physically strong enough to keep opposing defences busy all on his own, which is why AC Milan bought him. Anyone playing us has to adapt to the way he plays, and that's why it's so important for us that he has started scoring again."
Beretta by name, Beretta by nature
And so Italy have their most dangerous weapon back, just in time for the business end of the tournament. Beretta by name, Beretta by nature; when on form, the youngster is a lethal weapon, as is only fitting for someone who shares a surname with a famous Italian handgun. The headline-writers are rubbing their hands in anticipation as his career continues to blossom.
Italy were already one of the favourites before the tournament began, and with Beretta back on the goalscoring trail, they will be even harder to stop. The U-17 generation of the current FIFA World Cup™ holders are tactically mature and play a very direct brand of football - as complete a package as you will find in this age group.
Their quarter-final tie in Ijebu-Ode will see them take on a Switzerland team fresh from their epic win over Germany and who defeated Italy in the group stage of the recent UEFA European U-17 Championships. "We're ready for this, we're out for revenge," said a confident Beretta, who - you guessed it - was the Italian scorer in that 3-1 loss and is looking for his team to make amends.