By Samindra Kunti at Wembley
July 10 – In the end football didn’t come home. After a night of dramatic tension, Italy prevailed from the penalty spot to win Euro 2020, their first European crown since 1968, a victory veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci hailed as the “renaissance of Italian football”.
England and Southgate played the way they saw fit, often in stultifying and dull fashion, but ultimately the best team won the tournament. Italy has gone 34 matches unbeaten, with victories against both Belgium and Spain en route to the final. Roberto Mancini’s team rallied to come from behind against the hosts to win the final on penalties. Victory extinguished the bad memories of missing out on the 2018 World Cup and brought joy to nation that suffered gravely during the pandemic.
Stalwart Bonucci put Italy’s successful tournament down to ‘burning desire’.
At a news conference, he said: “We believed right from day one. We had the disappointment of the failure to qualify for the World Cup, but you must always believe, you need to want it more than anything else. This is a renaissance for Italian football. I am sure that this squad and this great coach will make headlines going forward.”
Tears flew after the final whistle and coach Mancini was among those stirred by his team’s nail-biting victory. In 1992, Mancini and his assistant Gianluca Vialli lost the European Cup final with Sampdoria against Barcelona at Wembley, but this time England’s national stadium was the backdrop for an Italian triumph that he masterminded, transforming Italy into a modern, dynamic outfit. The Squadra was more than the sum of its parts and dominated the tournament, grinding out results when needed.
“We deserved the victory,” reflected Mancini. “That goal early doors did cause us a few issues in the first fifteen minutes, but then we started to control the game. We were disappointed that we had to dig in and go all the way to a penalty shootout. We would have deserved to kill the game off earlier than that.”
“We have given Italians a wonderful month of success and joy and we are really happy about that. The Italian public really deserve this after what has been a very trying period.”
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