• Italy play their first match at Bahamas 2017 against Nigeria on Thursday 
  • Gabriele Gori, their chief threat up front, scored 19 goals in the European qualifiers
  • “We reached the semis at the last World Cup and we’re looking to go further this time,” he told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview

A surveyor by day in his home town of Viareggio, Gabriele Gori takes on a very different role when the clock approaches six every evening. It is then that he swaps his suit for a football kit to reveal another side to himself: Italy’s national beach soccer team striker.

Just as he does in his job, Gori puts his brain power to good use on the sand. Carefully planning his every move, he invariably pops up in the right place and right time to exploit the opposition’s defensive weaknesses. And not content with probing away up front, he also devotes his considerable energies to ensuring his team-mates stay organised and keep their shape.

“I have this calm air about me in my job,” the laughing Gori told FIFA.com. “But there are also times when I behave in the same way off the pitch, as I do on it. Whenever a problem crops up, I put everything I have into trying to sort it out. It’s just the way I am.”

A leader in every respect, Gabri has put his day job on hold to focus on the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017, where Italy have been drawn in Group A and will take on Nigeria in their opening match on Thursday.

“When it comes to the battle for places in the next round, I think we’ve got a slight advantage over the other teams in the group because of what we’ve already achieved in beach soccer,” said the 29-year-old forward. “But it’s also true that World Cup matches are always a different story and that the other teams will be doing all they can to beat us and send us home early.”

Gunning for glory
It is for that very reason that La Azzurra should not be underestimating anyone if they are to make it all the way to the final, a journey Gori has replayed in his head over and over again.

“I’ve thought about it many times: reaching the final and winning the game,” he said. “It’s my dream but it’s also my team-mates’ dream too. But when all is said and done, I’d love to score the winner in a World Cup final. It’s an ambition of mine.”

Asked to rate how excited he feels at being in the Bahamas, on a scale of one to ten, he replied: “I could say ten, but I’ll stick with nine for now. I’ll keep ‘ten’ in reserve for when we play the final because there’s no greater honour than that.

“We’ll be looking to do better than the last World Cup, when we reached the semi-finals but had the misfortune to lose on penalties to Tahiti. We’ve got a bit more experience now and we’re hoping to make it to the most important match of the whole tournament.”