September 28, 2021

Euro-2021: Squadra azzura’s triumphant return to Italy

The breath of a magical night has barely fallen, Italy celebrated, Monday, July 12, the triumphant return of its ‘Nazionale’ crowned European football champion against England, Sunday in London. A victorious Euro which acts as a band-aid for a country which has gone through a painful period.

‘It’s coming to Rome!’, As defender Leonardo Bonucci yelled with pleasure, the one who equalized before turning his shot on goal into an unbreathable final at Wembley stadium (1–1 ap, 3–2 tab) . The Italian hero parodied the stainless pop anthem of the English, ‘Football’s coming home’, to the delight of the tifosi.

>> To read: Euro-2021: on penalties, Italy deprives England of its dream of a trophy

And it was his teammate Giorgio Chiellini, captain of the Azzurri, who waved the trophy on London night, before presenting it to fans on his flight down to Rome on Monday at dawn, wearing a crown in front of the crowd came to greet the winners.

Leonardo Spinazzola, considered the unfortunate hero of this Euro after his serious injury to an Achilles tendon against Belgium in the quarter-finals, jumped the steps of the Alitalia plane and crossed the tarmac, leaning on his crutches, to cheers from the media and airport staff taking pictures.

The Azzurri then rested in a hotel before being greeted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, 79, who had traveled to London to cheer them on.

Long procession in the streets of Rome

They were greeted in front of the Presidency of the Republic at around 4.30 p.m. (2.30 p.m. GMT) by a crowd of several hundred enthusiastic people kept at bay by a police cordon. When they lifted the trophy, the crowd gave a long standing ovation to their heroes who took part in the photoshoots.

Even before arriving at the presidency, their bus, escorted by the police, was followed through the streets of the capital by a long procession of two-wheelers and cars, pedestrians applauding as they passed.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi is due to receive the entire football team at 6 p.m., as well as Matteo Berrettini, the unfortunate finalist of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, also received by Sergio Mattarella.

>> Read: Euro-2021: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy’s superhero on the roof of Europe

At Wembley, with devoted supporters and a favorable scenario, England saw themselves looking too good and Italy took advantage. ‘We heard day after day (…) that the Cup would return to London, home. Sorry for them, but in fact the Cup is going to have a nice trip to Rome. It’s for all Italians, everywhere in the world, for them, for us, ‘Bonucci cracked.

Throughout the peninsula, the Italians celebrated in the night the first title of the Nazionale since the World-2006, its second European title after that of 1968, in a concert of horns and foghorns and in a cloud of smoke.

‘Joy and hope after a difficult time’

The image of the selection, quadruple world champion (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006), had been seriously damaged by her absence from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, for which she had failed to qualify. But the nightmare is forgotten and Italy coach Roberto Mancini will be among the favorites for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. ‘It’s a rebirth for Italian football,’ said Bonucci.

It is also a tremendous breath of happiness for a country which has recorded nearly 128,000 deaths since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘We are happy to have given the Italians joy and hope after such a difficult time,’ said Mancini upon taking over the presidency, adding that the disappointment of the English supporters was ‘understandable’.

>> To read: Euro-2021: Roberto Mancini, the coach of the Italian renaissance

The former Lazio, Inter Milan and Manchester City coach has restored confidence to a battered side, turning them into an attractive, playful and happy roster. Captain Chiellini and his accomplices have become real ‘Fratelli d’Italia’ (‘Brothers of Italy’), like this hymn that they sing at the top of their lungs in every match.

‘We have an exceptional group, we love each other, we know where we come from,’ said goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, decisive in London and named best player of the tournament.

Bonucci pointed to the same sacred union to explain this success. ‘It’s amazing because day after day we never got tired of spending time together’.