Italy striker Graziano Pelle is an example for future generations, according to coach Antonio Conte.
The Southampton man scored a 69th-minute winner as Conte’s men edged Malta 1-0 in Euro 2016 qualifying on Thursday.
Pelle’s third international goal sent Italy above Croatia and into top spot in Group H.
The 30-year-old started his career at Lecce and spent time on loan in Serie B before making a move to AZ Alkmaar in 2007.
Pelle returned to Italy and spent time at Parma and Sampdoria before making his name at Feyenoord, scoring 50 Eredivisie goals in 57 games before a switch to Southampton in 2014.
“I hope that Graziano will continue to do well,” Conte said of Pelle, who has scored 14 Premier League goals in 42 outings.
“Inevitably, Pelle was sent away from Italy and he went abroad where he has grown a lot and has matured from an important international experience.
“He came back as a different footballer. I hope that this will be the same for many others, that they can grow from a physical point of view but also in terms of personality.
“We hope that Pelle’s example will be beneficial for everyone.”