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‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Italy's players were feted as heroes on Monday after beating England in a dramatic penalty shootout to win the Euro 2020 trophy, their second European title and first since 1968.

'Football came home': Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England
Italy's team captain Giorgio Chiellini carries the Euro 2020 trophy back to Rome. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

Roberto Mancini’s side won 3-2 on penalties after the match at Wembley had finished 1-1 after extra time.

“We are happy to have given joy and hope to the Italians after such a difficult period,” Mancini told reporters as the team touched down in Rome on Monday, where they were greeted by some 200 fans chanting: “We’re the champions of Europe!”

READ ALSO: ‘You need to eat more pasta’: The most Italian reactions to Italy’s Euro 2020 win 

No victory parade was expected given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, after a few hours at their hotel, the besuited squad attended a ceremony at the palace of President Sergio Mattarella, who himself had been at Wembley for Sunday’s match.

Italy’s coach Roberto Mancini (L) and Italy’s captain Giorgio Chiellini carry the UEFA EURO 2020 trophy. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

From Milan to Palermo, celebrations went late into the night after Sunday’s match.

In the heart of Rome, a concert of car horns and foghorns rang out amid a cloud of smoke from firecrackers.

At the final whistle, thousands of fans draped in Italian flags left fan zones installed near the Colosseum and Piazza del Popolo to converge on Piazza Venezia, at the foot of the monument to King Victor-Emmanuel II, father of Italian unification.

Forza Italia! Campioni d’Europa!” roared the supporters: “Come on Italy, champions of Europe!”

Supporters set off flares and fireworks in Piazza Venezia, Rome. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The European football crown returns to Italy three years after the four-time world champions failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Chiellini on Monday dedicated the win to the Italian fans and former Italy and Fiorentina defender Davide Astori, who died aged 31 after suffering a cardiac arrest before an Italian league match in 2018.

Addressing the audience in the grounds of Mattarella’s Quirinale palace, he paid tribute to his teammates.

“We are not here because we scored an extra penalty, but because we believed in the values of friendship,” he said. “This success is a group victory. This bond made us feel like brothers of Italy to answer the call together.”

Watching the match in the fan zone in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Few of the crowds at Sunday’s celebrations wore masks, which have not been mandatory outdoors in Italy since the end of June.

Discussions were held on whether or not to install a giant screen at the Stadio Olimpico, but the authorities, fearing an outbreak of the Delta variant, decided against the idea.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

On paper, large gatherings were prohibited. But it was difficult, in reality, to prevent young and old from finally meeting after months of lockdown when they were deprived of social life.

Under the pines of Via dei Fori Imperiali, the police watched the procession of jubilant supporters.

Celebrations in Rome. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Beyond the sporting performance, Italy wants to believe that the coronation as European champions will help the country definitively close the fatal chapter of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For fan Pierluigi de Amicis, “it’s a rescue, after a year and a half of pandemic, suffering, death”.

Greengrocer Matteo Falovo spoke for many when he said that after 17 months of the virus, which hit Italy hard, it had been “a pleasure to be able to think about something else”.

Fans celebrate in Milan. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

Corriere della Sera, Italy’s biggest selling newspaper, wrote on Sunday: “After the greatest post-war Italian tragedy, Italians are smiling again.”

“IT’S OURS! Football came home,” read the Corriere dello Sport.

“England beaten on penalties, Italy in the streets to celebrate the Cup.”

Mancini’s men recovered from the shock of conceding the quickest goal ever in a European Championship final to equalise and held their nerve to claim a shootout victory after extra time failed to break the draw.

“We did well,” Mancini told RAI Sport. “We conceded a goal straight away and struggled, but then we dominated the game.

“The lads were wonderful, I don’t know what more to say. It’s important for all the people and all the fans.”

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PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP
  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano 
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