Speaking ahead of the semi-final against the Netherlands, Alessandro Florenzi hailed "a very important two years" in his development since his Italy U21s debut.
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From Serie B side FC Crotone to AS Roma regular and senior international, Alessandro Florenzi feels that he has "grown up a lot in the last two years" since making his Under-21 debut.
A product of the Roma youth academy, Florenzi had made just a solitary league appearance for the capital club when he was loaned to Crotone for the start of the 2011/12 campaign. It proved a pivotal season for the industrious midfielder, who made his U21 debut at the start of qualifying for this final tournament, in September 2011.
"It has been a very important two years," said the 22-year-old ahead of Saturday's semi-final against the Netherlands. "
I need to thank [former coach] Ciro Ferrara, who brought me into the Under-21 national team. I also thank Mr Mangia, who believes in me. I hope this continues."
Florenzi scored 11 goals during his time at Crotone before returning to Roma, where he missed just two top-flight games last term. He has been an equally regular fixture for the Azzurrini, scoring one of the goals when they won 3-0 against the Jong Oranje last August in Mangia's first game at the helm.
"That was a good game but not all of us were there and not all the Netherlands players were there," he added. "Tomorrow we will do what the coach wants from us and show the right character. If you look back to my debut against Hungary, how many young players were in the team who were at Serie B clubs? If you count them now you will see that we have taken a lot of steps forward."
Roma confirmed on Wednesday the appointment of former LOSC Lille coach Rudi Garci following the departure of Aurelio Andreazzoli. For Florenzi, though, there are more pressing matters at hand. "I know [Garcia] won the championship with Lille, but in my head I only have Italy against Netherlands."