Soccer-Euro-Half-German Montolivo ready for special match

KRAKOW, Poland, June 27 Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:41am BST

KRAKOW, Poland, June 27 (Reuters) - Italy midfielder Riccardo Montolivo has the German flag stitched into his boots but his mother's Hamburg heritage will be put to one side when the teams clash in the Euro 2012 semi-final on Thursday.

Montolivo, born in Italy and with an Italian father, sees himself as part-German given his mother hails from there. He speaks German fluently - even translating his own answers during a news conference.

"It's for sure a special match," Montolivo said. "Part of me is German. I spent every summer in Germany until I was 15 with my grandparents near Hamburg and I'm still in touch with many friends there. But I feel Italian."

The 27-year-old, who will join AC Milan from Fiorentina in July, is likely to start the Warsaw encounter as Italy's most advanced midfielder having shone in the quarter-final with England before missing a penalty in the shootout.

Undeterred, he will show off his never-say-die German character if Thursday's game also goes the distance.

"If it happens again, I'll put my hand up to take one," the Italian said.

"Penalties are not missed by those who don't take them.

"When you miss the world crashes down onto your shoulders but when I returned to the halfway line I was calm and confident. I was convinced my miss would not be decisive." (Editing by Ken Ferris)