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Perin unbeaten both on and off the pitch

Italy goalkeeper Mattia Perin kept defending champions Spain at bay in their finals opener and while he now feels his team can go on to claim the title, the Azzurrini's hotel table tennis has also gained his interest.

Mattia Perin starred in Italy's goalless draw against Spain
Mattia Perin starred in Italy's goalless draw against Spain ©Sportsfile

Despite keeping champions Spain at bay in his team's first game at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship, Italy goalkeeper Mattia Perin was not satisfied with his performance and is determined to help the Azzurrini to glory in Germany.

High standards
Spain enjoyed the majority of possession on Wednesday in the Group A opener at Dessau-Rosslau, but could not force a way past the Italy rearguard as the match ended goalless. Even so, Perin was insistent his best was yet to come. "It was certainly not my best game for Italy," he said. "I don't think I played as well as I can although I made a good save in the closing minutes. I am not usually afraid of patrolling the edge of my box, but the wind was tricky. I got a lot of praise which was nice to hear, but I was not pleased with my outing."

The second-youngest player in the Italy squad, Perin is still only 16 and feels his side have the belief to go all the way at this year's tournament. "The result against Spain is a good one," he added. "The team is very confident because we are a very compact squad. We all know we can go all the way – our objective is to win this title; otherwise what's the point of coming here?"

Dual goal
Perin has only come into coach Pasquale Salerno's thoughts recently and is enjoying every minute of a tournament he did not think he would be playing in. "It is a beautiful experience," he added. "I will always remember this competition because a few months ago I was not even playing for the national team." Although taking the title from Spain's grasp is top of his priority list, he is quick to explain a secondary target for the duration of the finals. "We organised a table tennis competition between the eight players from the team who like it and yes, I'm doing quite well. We'll see who wins. Either I win the EURO or I might end up winning the ping pong tournament."