Nocerino admits to being 'like a rabbit caught in headlights' prior to maiden Italy call-up

The AC Milan midfielder recalled his astonishment at being selected by the Azzurri for the first time under the guidance of then-coach Roberto Donadoni
Antonio Nocerino has revealed that he was like "a rabbit caught in the headlights" prior to discovering his first inclusion in the Italy squad five years ago.

The midfielder is likely to form part of Cesare Prandelli's final 23-man squad for Euro 2012 following his impressive debut season with AC Milan, where he scored 10 goals in 35 Serie A appearances for the Rossoneri.

Before the start of 2011-12, Nocerino had plied his trade at Palermo for four years, and admitted his first call-up to the national team was to his amazement, but insisted his playing style has remained the same since his move to Milan.

"When I joined up with la Nazionale for the first time, it seemed like I was a rabbit caught in the headlights, and brought here by chance," he said at a press conference.

"Sometimes I laugh when I cast my mind back to that time, but it acted as a further stimulus. I have changed the minds of many, which is beautiful.

"I do not feel like a different Nocerino from a year ago just because I play for Milan now and I found a path to goal regularly.

"I wanted to beat the my previous record of four goals at Palermo and it went very well, but I'm still the same. I have not changed one iota.

Nocerino then cast his mind to this summer's European Championship, where Italy have been paired with Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in Group C, but preferred to shy away from setting any targets for his team.

"I do not want to talk about baseline targets, they are either the quarter-finals or the final itself. The goal is to do our best, I do not want to talk about other things," he continued.

"Also because I do not know yet what the maximum we can achieve is. Certainly we respect everyone, but the other must also comply with Italy."

Meanwhile, fellow new Italy performer Alessandro Diamanti has refused to concede being overlooked for the final cut in Italy's selection for the European Championship.

The Bologna forward was a surprise inclusion in the Azzurri's 29-man provisional squad, but is likely to be dropped from the cut, despite his admission that he will not book a holiday before discovering whether or not he will play a role in Poland and Ukraine.

"We will know on May 29 if I will be part of the 23, but for now I have not booked a holiday," affirmed Diamanti.

"When you achieve feats, you must thank others. I thank myself, the fans, my friends, Bologna and the coach, including the man who took me there Pierpaolo Bisoli.

"It was definitely all of these things which improved me as a player."

Italy kick off their preparations with a friendly contest against Luxembourg on Tuesday.