MILAN (Reuters) - Veteran Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini said he is savouring every moment of his career as, after waiting so long to win one international trophy, a second shot at glory is on the horizon at the UEFA Nations League Final Four tournament this week.
Having become a regular in the Italy defence in 2007, Chiellini burst on the international scene too late to be part of the team's World Cup win the previous year, before going on to collect a century of caps.
An international title, in an Italy career spanning 17 years, remained elusive until three months ago at Wembley as the Azzurri beat England on penalties to take home their second European Championship crown.
Now, alongside club team mate and fellow veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci, Chiellini has the chance to follow up that long-awaited success with another winners' medal this week, with Italy facing Spain in Milan in the Final Four semi-final on Wednesday.
"I'm very pleased with what I'm doing, I'm savouring every single moment of my career," Chiellini told a news conference on Tuesday.
"And I really am enjoying every single moment of my footballing old age, a lot more than the previous years, even when I was necessarily getting to the latter stages of all the competitions.
"We'll see how far it can go on for and I like being around these young guys that really give me a big lift."
Italy are unbeaten in a world record 37 matches under coach Roberto Mancini, form which has put them in a strong position to comfortably qualify for the Qatar World Cup late next year.
That tournament could come too late for Chiellini, given he would be 38 by the time it comes around, with injuries taking their toll on his playing time for Juventus in the past few seasons.
But the desire is there to carry on and making an appearance in Qatar is not out of the question, especially after tasting international success.
"I didn't necessarily think I hadn't won anything at the European level before this summer, but of course I did get a real boost and a lift in terms of energy over the last few months, it's been incredible," he added.
"It's hard to put into words, and it's not easy from the outside, it (winning the Euros) has given me a real boost to still be here to keep playing and to also have the opportunity to really be involved in all of these matches.
"It's given me a new lease of life."
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)