Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino believes that the time has come for him to shine for Italy at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
Gilardino was part of the FIFA World Cup-winning squad in Germany four years ago and although he started the tournament as first choice, he had lost his place by the quarter-finals and did not play in the final. This time, though, he wants to be one of Italy's main protagonists.
"I want to have a great World Cup, I'm working on the little things, physical and technical, so that I can begin it in the right way," he said from Italy's altitude training base.
"As for whether or not I'll be first choice, it's up to (coach Marcello) Lippi to decide but I feel I'm at 100 per cent. I'm ready to take on my responsibilities; this is a decisive moment in my career."
Gilardino scored in the 1-1 draw against USA in the group stages in Germany but was substituted in both other group games. He was hauled off at half-time in the second round against Australia and made only a brief substitute appearance thereafter, coming on for Luca Toni in the semi-final against Germany.
I'm ready to take on my responsibilities; this is a decisive moment in my career.
Back then Gilardino was an AC Milan player but he moved to Fiorentina a couple of years later after losing his place in the team to teenage forwards Pato and Alberto Paloschi.
Gilardino is still angry about being sold by the Milanese giants. "I scored 45 goals, people say they were wrong to put their faith in me but the numbers prove that I scored a lot for Milan," he said.
Although the FIFA World Cup is the perfect shop window for clubs looking to recruit, Gilardino now seems focused only on convincing Lippi he is worthy of a regular staring place in the Squadra Azzurra.
"I've been feeling great in Florence for the last two years and I have three more years on my contract," he added. "But I don't want to think about the transfer market, or the future."