Pepe delighted with Italy debut

But Pepe admits he did not believe he was going to start the match until he was handed the shirt.

Pepe said: “I only knew I was going to start this morning, as until I heard the words come out of Marcello Lippi’s mouth, I couldn’t believe it!

“I have to thank Gennaro Gattuso and Fabio Cannavaro in particular, as they really helped me to settle in to the squad and get accustomed to everything.”

The Udinese youngster continued: “The last 15 minutes of the first half and the entirety of the second was positive, but in the opening half-hour I struggled to find my place.

“In the second half I was able to pick up the ball with my back to the byline, so it was easier for me to break away from my marker.”