Roberto Mancini believes he and Gianluca Vialli came “full circle” at Wembley Stadium, making amends for Sampdoria’s European Cup final defeat against Barcelona by succeeding with Italy against England in the Euro 2020 final.
Mancini guided his country to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 with a shoot-out victory over Gareth Southgate’s men, courtesy of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s penalty-saving heroics.
Tasked with rebuilding after failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, Mancini led his side to a 34-game unbeaten run that culminated in the Euro 2020 success.
After the failure of 2018, the first year in which the Azzurri had failed to reach a World Cup since 1958, Mancini told SPORT1 “Italy was down”.
“You [Italy] immediately felt that everyone wanted reparations and were ready to work their a***s for the country”, the former Manchester City head coach added.
But Italy’s title did not just represent success for this current crop of players, it also provided comfort for Mancini and the Azzurri’s team delegation chief Vialli, who came up short with Sampdoria against Barcelona at Wembley in 1992.
“I still remember that game [the 1992 European Cup final] very well. We shouldn’t have lost it, it wasn’t deserved,” said Mancini.
“But now the circle has come full. 30 years later. Madness! I’m also happy because this trophy also belongs to the Sampdoria fans to a certain extent. Unfortunately, they had to accept the bitter defeat at the time. Now the wounds are being healed.”
— Italy (@azzurri) July 15, 2021
Italy’s impressive defence propelled them to their success as they conceded just four goals at Euro 2020, with England (two), Belgium and Finland (three each), the only teams able to boast better defensive records.
Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, whose 12 interceptions topped the defensive rankings alongside Ukraine’s Mykola Matvienko, marshalled the backline in front of shoot-out hero Donnarumma and Mancini feels the pair deserve significant credit.
“Giorgio [Chiellini] and Leo [Bonucci], of course, have a very large part in our wonderful success. They deserve it so much because they represent 20 years of Italian football history,” he explained.
The praise of Chiellini and Bonucci aside, Mancini batted off questions surrounding immortality and history to conclude: “This title is for all the Italians in our country.
“But it is also a gift to all Italians abroad. There is boundless joy right now.”
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