Tuesday, 3 June 2008

[Euro 2008] Cannavaro to lead Azzurri support

Fabio Cannavaro will remain with the rest of the Italy squad for Euro 2008 despite picking up an injury that rules him out of the tournament.

The Real Madrid defender was set to lead his country's quest for European Championship glory this summer, but will now be restricted to a spectator role.

He suffered ankle ligament damage during a training ground challenge with team-mate Giorgio Chiellini on Monday.

The injury will require surgery in order to ensure a full recovery is made, but Cannavaro is prepared to go under the knife in Austria so that he can remain part of the fold.

"It's my last chance to experience a Euro. I'll be an ordinary spectator but I hope to be useful," he told a news conference this morning.

"I've asked the coach to stay on with the team. It seems right to me after two years working together."

Cannavaro added that the injury has caused him to change his plans to retire from international football after the tournament. He said he is now more determined than ever to captain the Azzurri during their World Cup title defence in 2010.

"You'll have to put up with me for another two years," he said. "For me this accident is a challenge, to be able to return to the highest level.

"I had planned to stop after the Euro, but now, my challenge is to reach the 2010 World Cup. I have no fears for my career."

But he said there was no blame for the injury on Juventus defender Chiellini, who was said to be devastated after the incident.

"I comforted him. He was broken. I told him that it wasn't his fault. We lost a player it's not worth losing a second," said Cannavaro.

At 34-years-old the veteran centre-half may not get many more opportunities to figure at major international championships, but he is refusing to let his absence affect the mood within the World champions' squad.

"I have a lot of confidence in this team," he said. "We've got some very experienced players and I'm sure we will do well.

"That's the main reason why I want to stay here, to encourage the squad."

Fiorentina's Alessandro Gamberini was called up as a replacement, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon likely to take over the captaincy.

Source: Sky Sports

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