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Alberto Gilardino targeting World Cup

Alberto Gilardino says he is “very satisfied” to have stayed with Genoa this summer, and hopes he can earn a place in the Italy squad for next year’s World Cup.

The 31-year-old was all smiles after helping Genoa to a 3-0 victory in their biggest game of the season -- the Derby della Lanterna against Sampdoria -- at the weekend, and he is now setting his sights on earning a ticket to Brazil, while the World Cup in Russia four years later is not off his radar either.

“Look at [Miroslav] Klose, [Francesco] Totti and [Antonio] Di Natale, all champions at the age of 35, 36,” Gilardino told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “I want to reach their age still scoring goals. After I scored against Bulgaria [in a 1-0 win earlier this month], I wrote a tweet saying I feel like a young 31-year-old. Physically, I’m feeling good and psychologically I’m convinced that you never stop growing.”

Gilardino was part of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad in Germany, two years after winning the European Under-21 Championship, also in Germany. He equalled Roberto Bettega’s haul of 19 goals for the Squadra Azzurra with that strike against Bulgaria recently and is now just one goal short of joining Paolo Rossi on 20.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli witnessed him in action in Genoa on Sunday night, but Gilardino does not feel he has shown him anything he did not know already.

“I think the Italy coach knows me better than anybody,” he said. “I’m glad he came -- he was our lucky charm. If I go to the World Cup, it will be thanks to the work done here by my team mates. We’ll take things one step at a time, and I’m thinking about Genoa now.”