Inter's uncapped full-back Davide Santon was included in Italy's 23-man FIFA Confederations Cup squad, crowning a remarkable season for a teenager who was unheard of just a few months ago.
The 18-year-old was thrust into Inter's side by coach Jose Mourinho in January and despite being a right footer at left back, he stunned Serie A with his calmness under pressure and was quickly compared to the recently retired Paolo Maldini.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi called Santon up for the first time for this Saturday's friendly in Pisa against Northern Ireland and has opted to take him to South Africa having watched him in training in Coverciano for the past two days.
"I hope to become the Maldini of Inter. He was an example and he always will be," Santon told reporters before the final squad announcement. "I would be happy to do half of what Paolo has done in football."
AC Milan's Maldini bagged a record 126 Italy caps while Inter legend Giuseppe Bergomi won the FIFA World Cup with Italy in Spain in 1982 as a 19-year-old fullback.
"I would like to become a Bergomi without a moustache," Santon added. "I hope I can have this chance, but a lot will depend on what I do next season."
His chances of going with the holders to next June's World Cup finals look high given Lippi resisted the temptation to spring another surprise in the rest of the squad.
The coach had already selected 13 established names, who are being rested for Saturday's friendly, and has now chosen the remaining 10 he wants for next Wednesday's Pretoria friendly with New Zealand and the Confederations Cup tournament which follows.
World Cup-winning midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who has just returned to action after knee surgery, is among the additions alongside Liverpool left back Andrea Dossena.
The 10 all come from the experimental squad chosen to face Northern Ireland, meaning there is no place for Roma midfielder Simone Perrotta.
Striker Giampaolo Pazzini is in the squad for the Pisa game but is one of the 11 who will not be going to South Africa this year.
The Sampdoria man is banned for the next three games of their World Cup qualifying Group Eight campaign after being sent off when the leaders drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland in April.
The Azzurri will be continuing to train in Coverciano before they leave for Johannesburg on Sunday night.
Italy Confederations Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Marco Amelia (Palermo), Morgan De Sanctis (Galatasaray).
Defenders: Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Dossena (Liverpool), Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina), Fabio Grosso (Lyon), Nicola Legrottaglie (Juventus), Davide Santon (Inter), Gianluca Zambrotta (Milan).
Midfielders: Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (Milan), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Andrea Pirlo (Milan).
Forwards: Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal), Luca Toni (Bayern Munich).
[FIFA Confederations Cup 2009]