Italy had fans on edge during several games of the European Championship tournament, but no match was more nailbiting than the final against England at Wembley.
The anxiety descended after England caught Italy off-guard with a brilliant goal soon after kick-off. But then fear turned into exuberant celebrations across the country after Italy secured victory, lifting the European Championship trophy for the first time since 1968.
Headlines in the Italian press on Monday ranged from “We conquered Wembley” to “Italy, you’re the Queen”.
Gazzetta della Sport said: “It was an unforgettable night in London. After two minutes we were behind. Then [Leonardo] Bonucci equalised … the team knew how to recover a match that seemed lost, as only the greatest teams know.”
Enrico Currò, a journalist for La Repubblica wrote: “In the home of England, which is on a perpetual fast since the 1966 World Cup, and in the deafening theatre filled beyond the limits put in place by Covid, the Azzuri won their second European title.”
The Italian press took as much joy out of beating England on home turf as they did about teasing English fans about their “It’s Coming Home” chant.
Bonucci said on Sunday night that the chant had galvanised the team. “We heard it day in, day out ever since Wednesday night, since the Denmark game, that the cup would be coming home to London. Sorry for them but actually the cup will be taking a nice flight to Rome.”
Indeed, the trophy was already in the Italian capital by 7am CET. “It’s ours, the cup has returned home,” said Corriere della Sport.
The joy in Italy is a far cry from the despair that enveloped the country when the national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the first such failure since 1958. The coach, Roberto Mancini, has been widely credited with reversing the national side’s fortunes. Tuttosport declared him a “magnificent visionary”.
“He is the reconstructor of a national team that dissolved on the cursed night of 13 November 2017, and rebuilt it in three years,” the newspaper said. “Mancini changed the mentality, the game, the perspective of an Italy that is madly beautiful and therefore unique.”
Moreover, Mancini created a side that “believed in itself and was never afraid to push its limits further and further”.
The squad is now resting before bringing the trophy to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who was among the spectators at Wembley, on Monday evening. The players will be joined by Matteo Berrettini, the first Italian tennis player to reach a singles final at Wimbledon. Berettini was also there to cheer on Italy at Wembley.
The team will also meet the prime minister, Mario Draghi, who said the side, led by Mancini, “showed an extraordinary spirit”.