Napoli defender Fabiano Santacroce is celebrating his maiden Azzurri call-up but stresses that it isn't a victory over racism.
The half-Brazilian star has been chosen for Marcello Lippi's squad for the World Cup 2010 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Montenegro.
Some press sources have hailed his selection as a crucial blow struck against racism in Italian football, but Santacroce doesn't want to dwell on that point.
"I have never felt like a victim of racism," he insisted. "But if someone did insult me I would just laugh because you can't do more than that.
"I suffered a little from racism when I was a kid and I was playing in the junior ranks as there were stupid people around, but I didn't give it much importance.
"I don't lack character but if people want to see my selection for the Azzurri as an anti-racism gesture then that's fine but I just see it as a prize for what I have done on the pitch," he concluded.
Coach Lippi was asked the question in his news conference in which he said: "People are saying that his selection is a response to racism? I didn't think about that but that is a welcome message."
Source: C4 Football Italia