Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini insists his side were deserved winners in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against England after dominating from the moment they fell behind.
The Azzurri recovered from Luke Shaw’s strike after one minute and 57 seconds – the earliest ever European Championship final goal – to win the competition for a second time.
Leonardo Bonucci levelled up for Italy with 67 minutes played, becoming the oldest scorer in a Euros final, and it was Roberto Mancini’s side who prevailed 3-2 on penalties for their sixth major tournament title.
England had just 34.4 per cent of the ball, the Three Lions’ lowest figure at Wembley since drawing 2-2 with Spain in November 2016.
Italy also outshot their opponents 19 to six across the 120 minutes and Chiellini felt his side were good value for their famous victory in London.
“We won, I think deservedly,” he told RAI Sport. “We felt something magical in the air. We’d been saying it since the start of May and we deserve it, all of Italy deserves it.
“It was an incredible sensation. Thank you to everyone who was part of this group over three years and we dedicate it to all those players who are watching from home too.
“They key was always to play football and enjoy ourselves. We wanted to control the game, to hold possession.
“Despite getting that punch in the face within two minutes, we dominated the rest of the match and wanted it at all costs.”
Gianluigi Donnarumma was Italy’s shoot-out hero with two saves, including the decisive stop from Bukayo Saka’s attempt to end the Azzurri’s 53-year wait to lift the coveted trophy again.
That is the longest gap between championships in the tournament history, surpassing Spain’s 44-year wait from 1964 to 2008.
Donnarumma was mobbed by his team-mates at full-time and was hailed by skipper Chiellini, who compared the 22-year-old to the great Gianluigi Buffon.
“We had Gigione! We’ve gone from Gigi to Gigio,” Chiellini said. “It was right to win this way. We are all so happy and can’t wait to celebrate with all the Italians tomorrow.”
Italy are the first side in European Championship history to win two shoot-outs in a single edition of the competition, having also gone the distance against Spain in the semi-finals.
It marks an incredible turnaround for the Azzurri, who failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 but are now a national record 34 matches without defeat.
Mancini has overseen that long-running streak and was in tears when interviewed at the end of the game at Wembley.
“The lads are marvellous. I don’t know what more to say. It’s important for all the people and all the fans,” Mancini told RAI Sport.
“England did well. We conceded the goal straight away and struggled, but then dominated from there on in.
“We are happy that we played well when winning the game. I hope the supporters are celebrating right now. We’re happy now. That’s all that matters.”