Giorgio Chiellini has suggested that he would have liked to have faced his Juventus teammate Cristiano Ronaldo when he makes his 100th appearance for Italy on Saturday.
14 years on from his debut in 2004, Chiellini is set to become the seventh player to make a century of appearances for the Italian national team when he lines up against Portugal in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday.
Ronaldo has not been included in the Portugal squad and Chiellini, in typical fashion, claimed he would have relished the opportunity to face the superstar.
"If I am relieved that Ronaldo is not in Portugal's squad? I would have liked to play against him," Chiellini told Sky Sports, via Calciomercato.
"Playing against champions helps us to improve. We are lucky to have him in training, he helps us grow a lot."
Chiellini went on to express how pleased he was to have the opportunity to reach the milestone, claiming that it exceeds anything he could have imagined was possible when he was younger,
"It is even beyond the dreams that you have as a child. The Azzurri shirt is special because you represent your national team. The tension of international matches is not reached even in the most important club matches."
Following Italy's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, it would have come as no surprise had the veteran defender hang up his international boots. However, Chiellini claims that he simply can't turn down the chance to represent his country.
"Future? At this age, I cannot make long-term plans. I live with the enthusiasm of a novice, call-up after call-up. After Italy-Sweden I made a long reflection, and I came to the conclusion that the national team is something you cannot refuse.
"As long as the coach calls you, you have a moral obligation to respond."