Italy's Graziano Pellè celebrates scoring for Italy against Belgium
Italy boss Antonio Conte has praised his leading front-man Graziano Pellè for putting in the hardwork and going abroad to improve his game, telling FourFourTwo that moving abroad "has been the making of him."
Italy impressively beat Belgium 2-0 in their opening Euro 2016 fixture, overcoming the highest rank side in the tournament - as the Belgians came into the championship second in the FIFA world rankings.
Pellè has had to go abroad to make his name
It was Graziano Pellè who sealed the deal with a powerful volley in stoppage time, thrashed home after the Italians broke on the equaliser-chasing Belgians.
And the Southampton forward has now became a more established figure in the Italian side, and soon-to-be Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has singled him out for special praise because of his somewhat unorthodox rise to the top in Italian football.
Italy head coach Antonio Conte has praised the Southampton striker
"Graziano Pellè has had a rather interesting path," Conte said.
"He had to go abroad to break into the national side. In Italy, he wasn't playing much. He was always on the bench at Parma before moving to Holland.
"Clearly, coming up against different players in different leagues, and working very hard, has helped turn him into an excellent forward with terrific physical attributes.
"It's a little odd that he had to move abroad to make his name - the opposite is often true - but he took a different route and it's worked out for him.
"I'm happy for him because it shows that taking on challenges helps in life. Moving abroad has been the making of him."
Pellè scored 11 goals for Southampton this past season
Pellè has had a mixed campaign with Southampton, enduring a near four month goal drought as he failed to net for the Saints from November to March of last season, however he still managed to rack up 11 goals in 30 appearances.
His rediscovery of form came at the perfect time to ensure his place in the Italian set-up for the Euros, and after a bright start, it looks like that form will continue during his time in France.