Ex-Inter striker surprised at early qualification for Azzurri.
Former Brazil international and World Cup ambassador Ronaldo has welcomed Italy after they confirmed their attendance for next summer’s tournament.
The 36-year-old was speaking after the Azzurri sealed qualification with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in Turin on Tuesday night, thanks to goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli after Libor Kozak had given the visitors the lead.
The three points ensured that Cesare Prandelli’s men qualified with two games to spare, something that they have never achieved previously, and it is a feat that also surprised Ronaldo.
“Welcome to Italy, and congratulations on your speed. I was expecting you with almost all the others in October, and I confess that I was a little surprised. A nice surprise,” he is quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ronaldo went on to discuss various topics concerning the Azzurri, not least Prandelli and Balotelli who have been instrumental in helping them recover from the disappointment of South Africa in 2010.
The Brazilian icon revealed that he has spoken with numerous people over the last few years, and they have all claimed that Prandelli is “the first secret of this renaissance in Italy”, and his influence has seen them play more entertaining football since his appointment.
He continued by discussing his personal relationship with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo, against whom he had numerous battles with during his playing career, but also had a word on Balotelli.
Ronaldo admitted that the Brazilian people “are in love with him” after his appearance in the Confederations Cup earlier this summer, and it is now up to him to make that next step up in quality to become one of the world’s best.
The former Inter and AC Milan striker also revealed that “a little piece of my heart is always in Italy”, and having spoken to compatriot Kaka recently, he is looking forward to the competitiveness of Serie A this season.