Euro 2020 final: I represent Italy - Mancini wants to right the wrongs of international career

By Sports Desk July 10, 2021

Roberto Mancini hopes to complete a redemption tale with Italy's national team when they face England in the final of Euro 2020.

Mancini was a lavishly skilled forward and a talismanic leader for Sampdoria during his playing days, but the presence of the likes of Roberto Baggio and Gianfranco Zola in the Azzurri ranks, along with some tempestuous fallouts with coaches meant his was an international career that remained frustratingly unfulfilled.

He amassed 36 caps and scored just four times between 1984 and 1994, yet the 56-year-old's appointment as Azzurri boss in the aftermath of their failure to reach the 2018 World Cup has proved restorative for him and his country.

Playing in an adventurous, attacking style that Mancini pledged to stick with at Wembley, Italy have been a team reborn under the ex-Inter and Manchester City boss.

"I had the opportunity to play for the under-21 side, for the senior side who were excellent, but we weren't able to win either the European Championship or the 1990 World Cup, which we also would have deserved," he told a pre-match news conference.

"It's a very important moment for me because I represent Italy.

"I really hope that I can enjoy the experience that I didn't enjoy during my playing career despite the fact I played in some wonderful Italy teams."

 

Italy's technically superb midfield trio of Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella were unable to exert their usual control against Spain in the semi-final, with Mancini's side restricted to 30 per cent possession in the 1-1 draw before prevailing on penalties.

He insists this happened more down to circumstances than by design and insisted they will take will look to take the game to England.

"We've always played this way. Even against Spain we wanted to play like that, but Spain did a good job in limiting us," Mancini added.

"They kept the ball better than us so they did a better job on that score."

"We will try to do what we have done thus far and what's brought us here. We can't change that now."

Italy striker Ciro Immobile this week thanked Mancini and his staff for giving him "a cuddle" as his individual form has dwindled during the tournament – painting the picture of a happy camp somewhat at odds with the scene he left when he was sacked by City in 2013, a year on from guiding them to the Premier League title.

 

"They all need a cuddle, especially after the 50-odd days that we've spent together," he said.

"Thankfully it's always been a positive, happy camp. They've all given more than a 100 per cent so far, otherwise we wouldn't have made it into the final."

Asked how he would best hope to describe his team in the final, Mancini added: "Entertaining and fun, I would say that again. I hope the players can enjoy themselves for another 90 minutes tomorrow night."

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