Alessandro Diamanti hit out at former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli on Monday as he defended his decision to move to the Chinese Super League.
Diamanti signed for Guangzhou Evergrande in February and, despite having scored five goals in 23 games for the Chinese club, the 31-year-old has not played for Italy since.
The former Bologna attacking midfielder was part of Prandelli’s squads for Euro 2012 and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup but missed out on a spot at this year’s World Cup in Brazil, with many pundits claiming it was due to Diamanti’s decision to play in China.
But in the lead-up to Wednesday’s AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg against Western Sydney Wanderers, Diamanti defended his choice and claimed he would do it again even if Prandelli had expressly warned him it would jeopardise his international career.
Prandelli resigned as Italy manager after the European nation failed to get out of the group stage in Brazil.
“If he [Prandelli] thought that I missed the World Cup simply because I play in China, I didn’t care,” he told FIFA.com.
“I think I am lucky as I have made the right decision [in coming to China]. Had I been asked to again determine where to go, I would still choose China.”
Diamanti insists the Chinese Super League (CSL) is not an easy competition.
“Every match is highly contested. It is not easy to play against the tough opposition and win matches,” he said.
“As a player, you have to keep fit and maintain form if you want to get a good result. You should work very hard.”
Diamanti is part of a significant Italian influence at China’s richest club with Evergrande led by Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcelo Lippi, while it is also home to Alberto Gilardino, who moved to Guangzhou in July.
After just six months with Evergrande, Diamanti is already thinking about extending his contract.
Evergrande have won the past three CSL titles and triumphed in the 2013 AFC Champions League.
They will continue their defence of their continental title on Wednesday when they travel to Australia to play the Wanderers, before hosting the A-League club in Guangzhou on August 27.
Diamanti made his Evergrande debut in the same competition in February, scoring twice in a 4-2 come-from-behind win over another A-League club – Melbourne Victory.
“It was an amazing debut performance for me, it started my adventure in China in style,” he said.
“So far everything has been good here and I am hoping to prolong my Chinese journey. I hope that I can step up a gear and play better for the rest of this season.