James Troisi says he is living the Serie A dream after spurning the rich pickings of the Persian Gulf for the glitter of Italy’s top flight.
Australia’s sole representative in Italy’s premier competition, the 24-year-old has hit the ground running with a promising cameo for Atalanta off the bench in its season-opening 1-0 loss to Lazio and is pushing hard for a starting berth against Cagliari on Sunday (4.45am Monday AEST).
Troisi was lively and penetrating after coming on in the 67th minute in Bergamo for the club which has loaned him for a season after his arrival at Juventus on a four-year deal.
And after declining a lucrative contract in Qatar to follow a life-long dream to play in Serie A, Troisi is buzzing as he opens what he describes as a "new chapter" in a career he hopes will quickly propel him back into Australia's World Cup calculations.
"I feel I did well after coming on against Lazio after training for only five days leading up to the game," he said.
"I was surprised that things went well, apart from the result of course.
"The coach (Stefano Colantuono) was happy. I had a few chances and now I want to build on that.
"This is a new start for me, I am still quite young and I have a lot to learn but this is a great achievement so far.
"It's unbelievable for me, a great experience and a whole new chapter which I think will be fantastic."
Troisi could have signed for Stars League El Jaish and been set for life, but instead followed his passion and heart to Italy following in the footprints of Serie A trailblazers like John Aloisi, Frank Farina, Zeljko Kalac, Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella.
"I had a good think about the options before signing and spoke to my family and for me this was the best option. Money is important but at this point in my career not the most important thing.
"I wanted to push myself and play at the highest level possible and this was the best move at this point in my life.
"For me, it was a great start. I played through the middle against Lazio but the coach is also prepared to use me wide left or wide right, depending on the situation and who we are playing."
Atalanta finished 12th in the 2011-12 Serie A season but has been docked two points after Italy’s latest betting scandal and the South Australian will be banking on more game time as the club seeks to overcome the handicap and climb the table.
"Finishing in mid-table again would probably be acceptable for the club – any higher would be even better. This club has produced a lot of players who have moved to bigger clubs over the years," said Troisi.
"I am here for the season and we'll see what happens after that. I haven't had a full pre-season so it will take me a little time to get up to full speed fitness wise."
Troisi is convinced the switch from Turkey to Italy will elevate his game to another level: "I think it will definitely make me a better player. It's so professional here, so many quality players, who are tactically and technically switched on and mentally very smart.
"We have AC Milan in a couple of weeks, and it's exciting times."
While keen to pick up a ninth cap for Australia, Troisi knows his club form will be key to a national team recall.
"As long as I am doing well for Atalanta then hopefully a call will come, but it's out of my hands. If I am not playing it will be difficult to get picked, so I have to work really hard here and hopefully catch the eye of the national coach."
Life in Bergamo will never be boring with Troisi, saying: "The fans here are crazy. Against Lazio there were fireworks exploding and the stadium was packed. They are real die hard supporters."
John Boultbee is set to relinquish his role as Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) Head of National Teams to take up a role as honorary head of World Rowing (FISA).