‘Disrespectful’ ex-Saints striker Pelle thrown out of Italy squad

Mark Scott
Graziano Pelle: Striker part of Italy team beaten by Germany

Striker Graziano Pelle has been thrown out of the Italy squad after refusing a touchline handshake from head coach Gian Piero Ventura.

The former Southampton player was substituted after 59 minutes of the World Cup qualifier against Spain on Thursday night, with Italy trailing 1-0 at the time.

Ventura reached out his hand to Pelle who ignored the gesture and walked straight past the Azzurri boss.

His apparent petulance has proven costly, with Pelle dismissed from the Italy camp on Friday morning and told to return to his club, Chinese side Shandong Luneng.

The 31-year-old’s departure was announced in a statement from the Italian football federation (FIGC).

It read: “Azzurri head coach Gian Piero Ventura, with the full support of the FIGC, has decided to drop Graziano Pelle from the Italy squad for the match against FYR Macedonia in Skopje on Sunday 9th October due to the player’s disrespectful behaviour when he was substituted during yesterday’s match against Spain.

“Representing the Italy national team involves sharing values and exhibiting attitudes befitting the status of the Azzurri shirt.

“This begins with a player’s dealings with the staff, his team-mates and the supporters. The player will return to his club today.”

Italy came from behind to draw 1-1, with Daniele De Rossi converting a late penalty.

Pelle, who said sorry in the summer for his penalty shoot-out miss against Germany at Euro 2016, accepted he was fully at fault for snubbing Ventura.

“Unfortunately it has happened again and I’ve done a bulls***,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“An unacceptable behaviour against the coach in the first place and consequently to my team-mates who have always shown important values in a fantastic ITALY squad of which we are part.

“Like any great mistake you always face the consequences and it’s only right I take my responsibility for the incident. It’s only right to give my heartfelt apology to everyone.”