Fabio Quagliarella became the oldest goalscorer in the history of the Italian national team on Tuesday night after the Serie A stalwart found the net against Liechtenstein.
Having played his way to an Azzurri recall from coach Roberto Mancini by virtue of scoring 21 league goals for Sampdoria so far this season, Quagliarella took 35 minutes to set a new benchmark.
At the grand old age of 36 years and 54 days, the veteran rattled home a penalty to put Italy 3-0 up at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, thus eclipsing the previous record held by Christian Panucci, who was 35 when he scored against Romania at Euro 2008.
Quagliarella then netted another spot-kick to make it 4-0 moments before half-time. He then laid on a further assist for Moise Kean before departing in the 72nd minute to be replaced by a much sprightlier junior option: 30-year-old Cagliari striker Leonardo Pavoletti.
Indeed, Pavoletti then went on to score Italy’s sixth and final goal of the evening on his debut.
Speaking after the final whistle, Old Quaggsy was suitably humble about the whole thing:
I am 36 years old, but I don’t feel it! It’s a beautiful evening, wonderful with two goals.
“I have not played in the national team for quite some time, so being back here and helping is a great feeling. I am happy, I feel physically in good shape, I am calm and I train continuously, which is fundamental. Sampdoria are putting me in a good position too.
I thank Roberto Mancini, who watched me throughout the whole season and gave me this opportunity.
He then doffed a proverbial cap to Italy’s designated penalty takers for allowing him the opportunity to set his new record:
I thank both Jorginho and Leonardo Bonucci for their gesture to let me take the penalties – they both urged me to, even though they were the designated takers.
I thought after the first, when second was awarded, surely one of them would step up, but they told me it was my night.
Thanks to my team-mates, as they urged me to get a third in the second half. It didn’t arrive but I thank them because they all wanted to help me score and it was marvellous.
I also wanted to thank the fans, as that standing ovation is a memory I will always take with me. The applause was great.
We are Italy, this is the kind of game we need to be playing. We’re top of the group and it’s a young squad that can only grow.