Marco Parolo is something of a late bloomer, having not received his first Italy call-up until the age of 26 and waiting for over two-and-a-half years to get his second.
The Italian came on strong at Parma last season with eight goals and six assists in Serie A, winning a place in Italy’s World Cup squad in the process.
His inclusion by former Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli came despite Parolo never having played a competitive minute for his country, only getting on the pitch in friendlies.
This didn’t stop Prandelli from throwing Parolo on towards the end of Italy’s opening group stage encounter with England, won 2-1 by La Nazionale.
In his six-minute run-out the 29-year-old faced Liverpool’s own Steven Gerrard on that day – a player Parolo has now revealed he holds in high esteem.
Parolo told Calcio 2000: "Steven Gerrard is my idol because he always looks to break through and he is an all-round midfielder. And I, like him, always like to be in the heart of the game, otherwise I’d fall asleep."
"At the World Cup in Brazil I asked him for his shirt but he had already promised it to someone else. Obviously, to play against him was a really strong emotion."
"Am I a Liverpool fan too? Yes, I like the team, the Kop, the anthem. I also like Arsenal – red after all is my favourite colour."
Parolo’s exploits with Parma and Italy earned him a €5.5 million move to Lazio over the summer, where he’s become an integral figure and played every minute on offer so far.
Even if a move to the Premier League is unlikely considering his recent switch and upcoming 30th birthday, however, Parolo also expressed an interest in English football.
"English football really fascinates me. Their stadiums are a model that should be used in Italy, although I think that finally something is happening here too," he said.
"Emanuel Giaccherini told me that the English supporter feels like one with the stadium and that there is a great devotion, almost a sense of attachment even belonging to the team."
Perhaps Parolo could arrive on English shores one day soon even if he’s just begun a new adventure in the Italian capital, but that remains to be seen.
The 29-year-old is only just getting his first taste of life at a bigger club in Serie A and looks to be enjoying himself, so may let his current journey unfold before seeking out a new one.