Italy striker Patrizia Panico says her hunger to score has not changed since the day of her international debut after claiming her 100th goal for the Azzurre.
Panico reached her century in the 1-1 Cyprus Women's Cup draw with Finland on Monday, her 189th cap since her debut in April 1996. And the 39-year-old ASD Torres CF attacker is already looking forward – to Wednesday's seventh-place match with Australia that follows losses to England and Canada, and then to 5 April's must-win FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier with Spain in Vicenza.
"People can see it as a nice milestone but when I take the pitch I'm only focused on that game and what I have to do in that precise moment," Panico said. "Everything I have done in the past counts for nothing when I play, I'm only playing to help my team win games.
"I just have to thank all my coaches," she added. "From Sergio Guenza, the first, to [current Italy boss] Antonio Cabrini, who allowed me to play 189 times and score 100 goals. And I thank my team-mates who gave me considerably more than 100 chances to score, and my parents who, ever since I was a child, always supported my desire to constantly have a ball at my feet."
Panico, who at club level has won the Scudetto nine times and the Coppa Italia five, has also topped the Serie A scoring chart on 12 occasions, registering 26, 29 and 35 goals respectively for Torres in the last three seasons. She will lead the Sardinian side's attack in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final with 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam on 23 and 30 March.
First, though, come Australia, and the opportunity to move closer to Carolina Morace's Italy record total of 105 goals. "I still feel the same reckless wish to run towards the opponents' goal and try to put the ball in the net," Panico explained. "Nothing has changed in this sense since the day of my Italy debut back in 1996."
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