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The 2006 winner has urged his compatriots to take their best form to Brazil in order to make sure they grasp the "unique opportunity" the showpiece tournament affords

Former Italy international Gennaro Gattuso has called on Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano to seize the moment when they represent the Azzurri at the World Cup.

Gattuso, who made over 70 appearances for Italy, represented his country at three World Cups and in 2006 he was instrumental in helping his side win their fourth global title.

Brazil 2014 will be 23-year-old Balotelli and 31-year-old Cassano's first taste of the World Cup and Gattuso has urged them not to let the "unique opportunity" slip by.

"The World Cup is a unique opportunity," Gattuso told Ansa. "When the competition ends, or you retire, it would not be a nice feeling to think that you did not try hard enough.

"Apart from for players such as [Gianluigi] Buffon and [Lothar] Matthaus, you only get the opportunity to play a few times in a World Cup.

"You have to take advantage of the occasion. This applies especially to Balotelli and Cassano, but also to others."

Italy have been drawn in Group D alongside England, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Their first game will be against England in Manaus on Saturday, before they face Costa Rica in Recife on June 20 and Uruguay in Natal on June 24.

 

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