Leonardo Bonucci wants the Italy fans who whistled him during Saturday’s 0-0 Nations League draw against European champions Portugal to show maturity.
The stalemate assured Fernando Santos’ side of top spot in Group A3, with the Azzurri’s finishing letting them down at San Siro.
Bonucci was targeted by a contingent of AC Milan supporters inside their home stadium, following his solitary season with the Rossoneri in 2017-18 before returning to Juventus.
Speaking to Rai Sport after the match, the centre-back labelled his detractors as “imbeciles” but, in quotes reported by Corriere dello Sport, he struck a more conciliatory tone.
“The national team should unite under one flag, leaving out the club stories,” he said.
“I support [the fans] but this time I can judge and say they were wrong.
“I did not expect it, so I made some mistakes [by not being] myself in the first few minutes. Fortunately, I have broad shoulders.
“We certainly have to mature as a team but the growth process must also take place among the fans.
“The truth is that we should live with less envy and more cordiality and empathy.”
Volevamo vincere, non ci siamo riusciti, ma si cresce attraverso risultati come questi, ed è il nostro obiettivo.
Ciò che conta è non perdere entusiasmo e fiducia.
Indossare questa maglia è una cosa unica, questa maglia è unica.
Ogni tanto lo si dimentica. #LB19 #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/zequwUssKm
— Leonardo Bonucci (@bonucci_leo19) November 17, 2018
Italy will finish second in the group, meaning they remain in the top section of the Nations League for its next running in 2020-21.
It represents progress of sorts under head coach Roberto Mancini, who took the reins after the failure to reach the 2018 World Cup.
“Mancini makes us feel good inside and outside of the field,” Bonucci added.
“There was a time when that did not happen in the National team.
“There are all the elements to make a great qualification for Euro 2020.”
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