Anderlecht striker Stefano Okaka has credited a move to Belgium as a key factor behind his return to the Italy squad ahead of Euro 2016.
The 26-year-old earned his first call-up in almost a year for the friendlies with Belgium and Romania – Okaka having averaged a goal every other game in the Pro League since moving from Sampdoria in July.
Okaka represented Roma, Parma and Sampdoria while also being loaned out for a number of stints in Italy.
But the one-cap international says he is settled after strugging for consistency through much of his career.
“My life has been like a boxing match, I have made many mistakes and I have had to take a lot of punches, but never been knocked out,” Okaka told reporters.
“It’s a great experience. Anderlecht trust young players and give me the chance to play important games. I am more prolific now than I was back in Italy, but my aggression hasn’t changed at all.
“In Belgium there is a lot of attention on young players. Some of them have already won their league twice and they are still aged 20.
“The overall pressure is lower, so young talents can take their time to develop. They have the right mentality.”
After this month’s friendlies, Antonio Conte’s men will also face world champions Germany before the Euros.
Okaka – who marked his debut with a late winner in the 1-0 success against Albania in November last year – added: “It’s an important call-up for me.
“Italy have grown since [my debut] last year, the players are more conscious and our manager knows us very well.
“Every player has to have dreams – it’s the fundamental part of our job that makes our hearts beat. I will do my best to prove myself to our manager.”