By Sergio Stanco
Atalanta winger Ezequiel Schelotto has been an integral member of Stefano Colantuono's side, who have surprised everyone by making up their six-point deduction and rubber-stamping their survival with three games to spare.
The Argentina-born winger has been one of the revelations for the Bergamo-based outfit this season, and unsurprisingly has attracted the interest of some major clubs.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, Schelotto revealed his delight at Atalanta securing their Serie A status.
"[We probably didn't expect our survival confirmed] with three games remaining, but I must say that we have always believed in ourselves," he said.
"We knew we were a solid group and collectively a good team. We came up from Serie B and therefore it would not have been an easy feat to achieve this with three games to spare.
Schelotto was born in Buenos Aires but has spent his entire playing career in Italy, and has also featured for the Azzurrini between 2009 and 2010.
Some have questioned the 22-year-old's decision to choose Italy ahead of his country of birth, but the winger stands by his allegiance and still harbours hopes of being selected by Cesare Prandelli for Euro 2012.
"I never thought I made a mistake and when I called to see [then Under-21 coach Pierluigi] Casiraghi if I had a chance to represent the team. I had no hesitation, I said yes immediately and with conviction," he revealed.
"Italy is the country that has welcomed me and my family so well, it's where I grew as a player, so I did not hesitate when deciding.
"Wearing the jersey of the national team would give me great satisfaction and joining up with Prandelli's squad for me would be a dream.
"I hope I am able to go to the Euros with Italy, it would be proud moment for me. But even if I couldn't do that now, I'm still young and will continue to work hard to improve and earn a call. "
Schelotto's fine season for Atalanta has not gone unnoticed according to sections of the Italian press, with Juventus and Inter reportedly vying for his signature, but despite his admission that the idea of featuring in Europe is appealing, he stated his happiness playing in Bergamo.
"I've heard rumours about Juventus and Inter [being interested in me]," he continued. "Obviously playing for a team fighting for the Scudetto and playing in the Champions League is the dream of every footballer.
"I am aware that I have had a good season, but I will leave my future to my agent and the Atalanta president.
"But that does not mean that I want to go [to either Juve or Inter], because here in Bergamo I'm playing well and I'm part of a great team.
"If we were not a group with great quality and character, we would not have earned 52 points. And if it was not for the point deduction, we could have fought for a Champions League place."