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29th Sep 2021

Leonardo Bonucci claims Declan Rice “mistake” spurred Italy to Euro 2020 victory

Simon Lloyd

“They’re the kind of mistakes young players make”

Italy, like Luka Modric and his Croatian teammates before them, appear to have taken the whole “It’s Coming Home” thing very seriously in the summer.

Leonardo Bonucci, Italy’s Euro 2020-winning captain, has revealed the phrase served as motivation for the Azzurri team ahead of the final against England.

Although the phrase’s resurgence was nothing more than an ironic acceptance that England – after years and years of major tournament underperformance – almost certainly wouldn’t do much in the last World Cup, their unexpected march to the semi-finals saw it mistaken by the Croatians as arrogance.

In an interview with The Athletic, Bonucci has said he and his teammates were also spurred on by it ahead of the Wembley final, adding that a throwaway comment from Declan Rice in the buildup to the game made them even more determined to return home with the trophy.

“We didn’t pay much attention to it until the Spain game,” Bonucci said. “Then the anger inside of us began to mount. We wanted to show them that the final hadn’t already been decided. That they hadn’t already won.

“Hearing that song on repeat and the comment from Declan Rice saying England were 10 times more motivated to win than us… well, they’re the kind of mistakes young players make. You don’t say that. You should never say you want something more than somebody else or you’re better than somebody else.

“You should always put yourself on the same level as your opponent, keep a low profile and strike at the right moment. That’s what we did. We never said we were going to win, just that we were an inch away from going all the way and getting the right result. We were never presumptuous about it. We stayed humble and that’s what made the difference.

“We had a great team, a great coach and a great staff behind us. To give our country and ourselves that kind of joy was something truly special.”

In the immediate aftermath of Italy’s penalty shootout victory, Bonucci made a point of screaming “It’s Coming to Rome” into a pitch-side camera.

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