Juventus forward Paulo Dybala is hoping to fulfil a childhood dream at some stage by landing the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
The 24-year-old has emerged as one of the finest talents in European football, but has his sights set on conquering the global game.
Having earned a high-profile switch to Turin in 2015, the highly-rated frontman has proved himself on Serie A and Champions League stages while also making his senior international bow for Argentina.
Dybala has come a long way from humble beginnings in Cordoba and admits that his next target is to follow in the footsteps of countryman Lionel Messi and reach the very top of his profession – having made the 30-man shortlist for the 2017 award.
He told the Italian edition of Vanity Fair on ambitions formed at a young age: “We’d sit around the fire in the summer and I told my friends that [winning the Ballon d’Or] is what I wanted.
“If I win it, it would send out a huge message to many kids; for all of those born like me in small villages far from the great metropolis’ who can hope to be able to tell a similar story to mine one day.”
While setting lofty targets, Dybala acknowledges that he is fortunate to have seen his talent recognised and shaped.
He added: “When we have a ball at our feet, we footballers are delighted, but what happens behind the scenes is not always all that pretty.
“When you get to the level that I’m at, often you are a very lonely man.
“God gives us this talent, but it’s a talent that you need to work on. I’ve seen so many phenomenal players at youth level – lads who you would say: ‘If only they had their head screwed on, they could have been the next [Diego] Maradona or Messi’.”
Dybala is well on his way to reaching that level, with 13 goals netted for Juve this season, and will be hoping to see his efforts in 2017-18 rewarded with a place in Argentina’s squad at next summer’s World Cup.
He insists that he was never in any doubt that he would commit his international future to the land of his birth, despite being approaching by Italy during his days at Palermo.