He 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."
Pepe was in the starting XI for the 0-0 draw away to Bulgaria and was the only player in the attacking trident who played the entire game.
"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.
As time wore on, the Udinese youngster began to push forward more and test marker Ivanov.
"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."