Italy's Insigne set to shine in Israel

After a breakthrough season, Lorenzo Insigne is set to star at the UEFA European U21 Championship. "It is a huge step in my career," said the SSC Napoli man.

Lorenzo Insigne (left) celebrates scoring in the play-off against Sweden
Lorenzo Insigne (left) celebrates scoring in the play-off against Sweden ©AFP/Getty Images

Set to be a key player as Italy aim to regain the trophy they last won in 2004, Lorenzo Insigne cannot wait to get started after arriving in Israel for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals.

After scoring in a 5-0 warm-up win on Friday evening against an AS Varese youth side, the SSC Napoli forward travelled with the bulk of the Azzurrini squad to Tel Aviv on Saturday morning, hoping to build on his breakthrough season at club level by helpin ghis country to a sixth triumph at U21 level.

"Of course it is normal for an increase in tension, as this is a huge event," said the No10, who turns 22 a day before Wednesday's Group A opener against England. "But at the same time keeping calm will be crucial in order to perform well. It is important for me to be in Israel, it is a huge step in my career and in my individual growth."

After appearing five times for the Partenopei in the UEFA Europa League this season, as well as scoring five goals in 37 Serie A outings for the side that finished second, Insigne is a senior figure in the squad, but cited Paris Saint-German FC’s Marco Verratti and AS Roma’s Mattia Destro, two others in the with caps at senior level, as key men. "Both of them will give us a large contribution, as they have a lot of experience. The senior team gave us two big players. We are here in Israel to play a major role and to go all the way."

Despite suffering a minor knee injury in Sunday's training session, the attacking midfielder hopes to be available for the match against the Three Lions on Wednesday, and knows the 2009 finalists will be tough opposition. "They are a very physical squad and conceded very few in qualifying," he said. "We will try to do our best, hoping to win all the games, and the commitment of the whole team will be crucial if we want to have a chance to lift the trophy."