Football

Euros win a vindication of last 3 years: Roberto Mancini

Former World Cup winner Zoff says this could be start of Italy's cycle of success

Italy coach Roberto Mancini said watching three years of hard work come to fruition with Euro 2020 glory yesterday morning (Singapore time) reduced him to tears after his side edged England out on penalties.

The Italians went behind early to a Luke Shaw goal at Wembley but equalised in the second half through Leonardo Bonucci, before winning 3-2 in a shoot-out after a 1-1 draw following extra-time.

It marked Italy's first European Championship title since 1968 and was the result of Mancini's intelligent rebuilding of the Azzurri, following their humiliating failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Asked about the tears he shed at the end, Mancini said: "That was the emotion that happens after achieving something incredible, of seeing the guys celebrate, the fans celebrating in the stands.

"It was seeing everything we have managed to create, all of the work we have put in over the last three years and specifically in the last 50 days, which have been very hard.

"We have got on very well, there have never been issues and the players deserve credit for that.

"Not just on the pitch... but I think it is the fact we have been able to forge this team spirit.

"They have created something that can never be separated going forward.

"They will always be synonymous with this triumph because they have so much respect for one another."

There was also respect for Mancini among pundits, who hailed his role in Italy's win.

Euro 1996 top scorer Alan Shearer said on the BBC: "Mancini changed things when it needed to be changed.

"Italy couldn't get in the pockets in the first half but they could in the second half. They found a way."

As Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma told RAI Sport: "That early goal could've killed us, but that's not who we are.

"We are the ones who never give in...

"It wasn't easy, as England defend well, but we were spectacular and we deserve all of this."

Ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand agreed, saying on the BBC: "We were beaten by the best team in the tournament and the best team in the 120 minutes."

DESERVED PRAISE

Former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas said Mancini and his side's response to going a goal down after just two minutes deserved praise.

He said on the BBC: "It takes a lot to steady the ship when they came into this cauldron of fire and passion and given the support for this England side.

"I think it was that experience they had at the back that slowly started to shift the tie into their favour."

Veteran defender Bonucci won Uefa's Star of the Match award as he picked up his first international honour, nine years after losing the Euro 2012 final to Spain.

The 34-year-old called the triumph a "renaissance for Italian football".

He said: "We have said since day one we believe we can do it. It is only right Italians celebrate in all four corners of the globe tonight.

"We had the disappointment of the failure to qualify for the World Cup, but you always need to believe, strive for the top and never give up.

"This is a renaissance for Italian football.

" I'm sure now that this squad and coach will still make plenty of headlines going forward."

Like Bonucci, who took a swipe at the "It's coming home" chant popular with England supporters, Italy's 1982 World Cup-winning striker Alessandro Altobelli also could not resist a dig at the Three Lions.

He told RAI Sport: "It's joyful winning at Wembley against England, who always think they are the best, the greatest, the most talented, the most beautiful.

"And yet, if you look in their trophy cabinet, there's one rusty cup from 1966.

"Go look at our trophy cabinet, it's packed."

His former World Cup-winning teammate Dino Zoff suggested that trophy cabinet might become more packed.

He said: "(This is) a magnificent Italy team, but it's just the start, the Azzurri can begin an era like Spain and France.

"We were superior to England. Mancini did a terrific job." - REUTERS, AFP

ITALY: Donnarumma, Emerson (Florenzi 118), Bonucci, Chiellini, di Lorenzo, Barella (Cristante 54), Jorginho, Verratti (Locatelli 96), Chiesa (Bernardeschi 86), Immobile (Berardi 54), Insigne (Belotti 91).

ENGLAND: Pickford, Shaw, Maguire, Stones, Walker (Sancho 120), Trippier (Saka 70), Phillips, Rice (Henderson 74, Rashford 120), Mount (Grealish 99), Kane, Sterling.

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