Giorgio Chiellini desperately wants to turn Italy’s Euro 2012 dream into a reality for the sake of the country’s supporters.
Thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate Thursday’s stunning semi-final success over Germany and the Juventus defender is now praying the Azzurri can overcome defending champions Spain in Sunday’s final in Kiev.
“We are there; so close to the cup,” Chiellini told Rai Sport. “We want to win to keep this dream going for our fans. We want to give them something big.”
Italy were written off by many pundits before the tournament began because of the disruption caused by the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal, as well as their shocking 3-0 defeat by Russia in their final warm-up fixture.
Even Chiellini admitted the players have been taken aback by how far they have come in such a short space of time, pointing out that they could easily have routed a heavily-fancied Germany side.
“Who would have believed such an incredible ride 10 days ago?” the versatile centre-back said. “We could have won 3-0 and nobody would have been able to say anything.”
While Italy were beaten by Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008, they have a good record against them in international competition.
However, history will have no bearing on Sunday’s final, as far as Chiellini is concerned.
“Tradition and statistics count for little now,” he said. “But we believe we can win the European Championship and we want it, while appreciating that Spain are a great team.”