Italy may not be the force in women's football that reached two continental finals in the 1990s, but they have never failed to make the last eight of the UEFA European Women's Championship and Elisa Camporese is confident of more success.
Two years ago they were only pipped to the FIFA Women's World Cup by 1-0 home and away play-off losses to eventual runners-up the United States and they stormed through UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying without conceding a goal.
Late in qualifying 1982 FIFA World Cup winner Antonio Cabrini took over as Italy coach and Camporese, who played at the 2005 finals, enthuses to UEFA.com about the presence of a "legend" as they prepare to open on Wednesday against Finland in Halmstad.
UEFA.com: What is the strongest thing about this Italy team?
Elisa Camporese: The characteristic we have is definitely a great mix of new young players and more experienced players. And those more experienced players can be a stimulating example for the younger players, who have to certainly grow, but they have been following a path that will definitely make them ready for the EURO, with the right desire to do well.
UEFA.com: Who will be the key players for Italy this summer?
Camporese: Our captain. Patrizia [Panico] is in splendid form and crowning a very long career, which will hopefully last a little bit longer, because if she continues playing like this I hope it will last a long time. She is our captain, she is our finisher in every way.
UEFA.com: Antonio Cabrini took over as coach last year, how has that been?
Camporese: Antonio is a legend in Italy. And he has brought his football history and his way of seeing football, which is really a view from the pitch. He is able to be a manager but also a leader, because he always has an open ear for all of us and he is always there without imposing himself too much. And that is a very important aspect. Of course, we are still at the beginning, only one year has gone by and it will last a lot longer, because he can teach us a lot.
UEFA.com: In Group A in Sweden you will play Finland, Denmark and Sweden. What challenges do you expect?
Camporese: Matches against teams from the northern part of Europe are always pretty physical because they are just taller and bigger than us, and compared to previous years they have been playing a lot better. So they will be matches where we need to take advantage of our creativity against their more organised way of playing.
UEFA.com: Two years ago you came quite close to reaching the FIFA Women's World Cup. What did Italy take from that campaign and all the results you had?
Camporese: The two matches against the US showed us there is not that gap on the pitch any more, which everybody was talking about. Over 90 minutes anything can happen when you prepare well for the match and when you invest a lot of heart on the pitch, as we did. We showed that for the whole 180 minutes, but, unfortunately, the end result wasn't in our favour.
UEFA.com: How does this Italy team compare to the side four years ago that reached the quarter-finals in Finland?
Camporese: I wasn't there four years ago, but it was a EURO where the team played very well. In this upcoming EURO we will reap the rewards of the hard work we have put in over the last four years. That gives me hope for some good results.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to play in a UEFA Women's EURO for Italy?
Camporese: To represent Italy is always an honour, of course. I have finally made it to a EURO again, after eight years – I played my last one in 2005. I was still pretty young then, and after what I experienced back then I have noticed today how important I can be, but also what it is like to play in a tournament like this. It's a lot of emotion and also like a job which I hope I can do well.
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.