September 27, 2021

Euro-2021: Gianluigi Donnarumma, superhero of an Italy on the roof of Europe

For almost 20 years, Italian fans have blessed two goalkeepers: Francesco Toldo, so brilliant during Euro-2000, and especially Gianluigi Buffon, one of the great artisans of the world title won in 2006. Now, the fans have a another last rampart answering to the same first name to be idolized to excess. Gianluigi Donnarumma was great on Sunday 11 July in the Euro-2021 final against England.

‘Me, am I like Buffon? He remains the best of all, but I try to be always ready, ‘he said at the microphone of Rai after the meeting. ‘We’ll see where I get to.’

The Three Lions hoped they had done the hard part by breaking their vigilance from the start thanks to Luke Shaw, lethal with his half-volley at close range after just one minute and 56 seconds. At this point, ‘Gigio’ Donnarumma couldn’t do much. But behind him, he and his partners in the Nazionale rearguard laid the foundations for Italian success and the English nightmare.

‘Quiet’, sure of himself, Donnarumma enchanted Italy

After the equalizer snatched by Leonardo Bonucci (67is) and long minutes of tension without another goal, the 22-year-old goalkeeper stepped into action, when referee Björn Kuipers whistled the end of the 120 minutes of play and, consequently, the start of the penalty shoot-out. . Not enough to scare Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has never lost in the four times he has complied with this exercise since the start of his career.

‘Before the penalty shootout, I was quiet. I know what I can do, ‘he told beIN Sports later in the evening.

This session had started badly for the Squadra Azzurra, led 2-1 after two shots. Leonardo Bonucci reduced his to 2-2. Then began the psychological battle between Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marcus Rashford. The goalkeeper dived on the wrong side, but the striker, who had slowed his run to trouble his opponent, crossed his shot too much and found the post: 2-2, perfect tie after three shots on each side.

After the successful shot by Federico Bernardeschi (3-2), Jadon Sancho presented himself in turn against the giant of 1.96 m. Like Rashford earlier, Sancho came in just to take part in this session. And like his compatriot, the neo-Mancunien failed. He found Donnarumma’s gloves.

Jorginho had the coronation ball at the end of his foot, but Pickford pushed him back. Perhaps it was written that the hero of the evening would be the keeper of the Azzurri. Bukayo Saka, the ultimate English shooter, stumbled on the firm gloves of Gianluigi Donnarumma. In a devastated Wembley stadium, a young man of 22 years snatched from the English this title they dreamed of so much.

Soon in the PSG cage

In the semi-final, the Italian goalkeeper had already pushed back the shot to the goal of the Spaniard Alvaro Morata. And earlier in this Euro, Gianluigi Donnarumma and his fellow goalkeepers lessio Cragno, Alex Meret and Salvatore Sirigu had broken the Italian record without taking a goal: 1,168 minutes of invincibility to the four of them between October 2020 and June 2021, against 1,143 minutes for Dino Zoff alone between 1972 and 1974.

‘I have great regard for him. He is young, he has already played many seasons with Milan and played a lot with the national team. The obvious is that he has great prospects for becoming a great goalkeeper. Then it will depend on him, but the possibilities are immense ‘, enthusiastically his glorious predecessor, before the final.

Despite his surprise, it was to him that the trophy for Best Player of Euro 2021 was awarded, before Squadra Azzurra lifted this trophy after which they had been chasing for 53 years. He is the youngest player to receive this distinction. One more proof of the new dimension of Gianluigi Donnarumma on the football planet.

‘It’s a dream, I don’t know what to say. It’s exceptional, we wrote history. We deserve what happens to us. We have an exceptional group, we love each other, we know where we come from. Nobody believed in us, but we are here today, ‘he said after lifting the trophy.

The phenomenon will soon be at work in France, in all likelihood. The information is not yet official, but the goalkeeper must join PSG. AC Milan, its training club, has already found its replacement in the person of Mike Maignan. Paris, however, already has an excellent goalkeeper with Keylor Navas. But the Donnarumma opportunity was too good, since he was at the end of his contract in Lombardy. And with its performance this summer 2021, PSG is undoubtedly even more convinced of its choice. Italy has already adopted it.