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A veteran of UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups, Fabio Quagliarella had to wait until this season to get his first taste of the UEFA Champions League – and he is savouring every minute.
"It's a competition I have always followed on TV, so it was my dream to take part in it," Juventus's Italian international forward told UEFA.com. "Fortunately this season I have been lucky enough to play in it and it has gone pretty well."
Quagliarella certainly wasted no time making an impression, scoring on his competition bow as Juventus came from behind to draw at holders Chelsea FC in the group stage opener. "
I was brought on and scored so I will never forget my Champions League debut. It's a goal I carry especially close to my heart.
"I think it was crucial, because we realised we could take on any team. Chelsea had lifted the trophy three months before, and we had to play our first match there. Even though we were 2-0 down, we showed great character and didn't give up – we believed until the end and were rewarded for that."
Indeed, since ending a record run of nine straight UEFA Champions League draws on matchday four, the Turin outfit have won five out of five. Quagliarella has contributed to that upturn, with four goals to his name from 248 minutes on the pitch – his five appearances including just two starts. The 30-year-old understands coach Antonio Conte's viewpoint, though.
"The boss has been rotating the forwards for two years now," said the former UC Sampdoria, Udinese Calcio and SSC Napoli striker. "Maybe in the first couple of months you were trying to understand how he worked, but after two years you know. Depending on the match, on the opposition, he changes the forwards. So we are all calm, we know what's going on."
Quagliarella must therefore wait to see if he gets the nod for the quarter-final against FC Bayern München – which kicks off in Germany on 2 April – yet is ready if selected. "I have always had faith in my ability. Every time I go out on the pitch and have a difficult opportunity, where maybe there's a 70/30 chance of missing, I still take it.
"It has worked out well so many times and is really pleasing when it does." If Quagliarella is still smiling in Munich next Tuesday, then it can only be good news for Juventus.
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