It was a Sunday of great sports feats for Italy.
On July 11, 2021, the Azzurri, the national football team, won the UEFA European Championship 2020, while Matteo Berrettini was the first Italian to ever reach the finals at Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world.
As one may expect, all eyes were on the soccer tournament. Millions of Italians gathered in homes and squares to watch Italy play against England for the coveted trophy, a title the Italian team hadn’t won since 1968.
And hopes were high given how well Italy had played throughout the tournament, the credit for which has been given to Italy’s football coach, Roberto Mancini, a former footballer himself, who has been able to turn what had become a mediocre team (Italy had even failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup) into a highly motivated, competitive and cohesive group.
The game didn’t start well for Italy given England scored just two minutes into the match. And the first half wasn’t really that thrilling, with Italy having difficulty breaking into England’s defense. When the Azzurri got hold of the ball, boos rang loudly around the stadium. It was in the second half that Italy showed that determination and exciting moves that had gotten the team into the final.
Leonardo Bonucci scored Italy’s equalizer 67 minutes into the game, and for the remainder of the time Italy tried hard to score another goal. However, that didn’t happen, and after a rather bland extra time, the game proceeded to penalty kicks.
One of the most celebrated player of this Euro championship has been the very young Gianluigi Donnarumma, who saved the winning penalty from Bukayo Saka. If you watched the game, you may have noticed that Donnarumma, who hails from Naples, upon saving the decisive penalty, did not rejoice right away - interviewed later, he said he hadn’t realized that they had won (imagine the tension!). Donnarumma was awarded the title of ‘player of the tournament’ at this year’s Euro.
This is magnificent:— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) July 12, 2021
Donnarumma just saved decisive penalty, but walks away thinking still it’s not over, and only when sees all teammates are running he realises WE ARE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS pic.twitter.com/IXtwQNhCqp
If Donnarumma is the youngest player, Giorgio Chiellini, at 36 years old, is the oldest. A defender, his role in the finals game was just as decisive, as it was Leonardo Bonucci, also one of the oldest players in the team; indeed he earned the ‘man of the match' award. At 34 years old, Bonucci is the oldest player to score in a Euro final and holds the Italian record for the number of EURO finals appearance, 18, followed closely by Chiellini with 17 appearances.
Other players of note in the finals match include Lorenzo Insigne, captain of the Naples team, nicknamed Lorenzo il Magnifico, and Federico Chiesa, winger for Juventus, who, right after the victory, made a video call to his mother. “Chiama mamma” (call mom), he told Siri.