Francesco Caputo was thrilled to finally pull on an Italy shirt at the age 33 but there was also a tinge of regret at what might have been after a career spent largely in the lower divisions of Italian football.
The Sassuolo forward became Italy’s second-oldest debutante when he started the friendly against Moldova and needed only 23 minutes to score his first international goal in the 6-0 win.
“To start out with a goal in the blue jersey after a very long journey is as good as it gets,” he said. “I am very happy with what I have done and I will try to continue on this path.”
Yet, there was also a sensation that he could have made more of his potential and that he paid for his loyalty to his beloved Bari.
Caputo helped Bari win promotion to the top flight back in 2008-09 but was excluded from their plans for the following season and instead loaned to Salernitana, which meant that he remained in Serie B.
He finally made 12 Serie A appearances for Bari in the 2010-11 season only to find himself back in Serie B after being loaned to Siena halfway through. By the time he returned to Bari, they had been relegated.
Despite this, he stayed with them until 2015 and had to wait until 2018 before getting another chance in Serie A when he won promotion with Empoli. In all, he has made just 89 appearances in Serie A throughout his career but scored an impressive 41 goals.