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Their mission was not football alone, it was transforming a nation’s trauma

Miriam O'Callaghan


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Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini holds the Euro 2020 cup as the team arrives back in Rome. Photo: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini holds the Euro 2020 cup as the team arrives back in Rome. Photo: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini exits the bus as the team arrives at the Parco dei Principi hotel after winning the European Championship. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini exits the bus as the team arrives at the Parco dei Principi hotel after winning the European Championship. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

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Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini holds the Euro 2020 cup as the team arrives back in Rome. Photo: Alberto Lingria/Reuters

In the end was the beginning. And so, from Wembley stadium to Italian homes, from the big screens in the piazze, to social-media feeds, the radio, the papers, it was all about fever, ‘delirium’. And the night and the adventure were all about Chiellini – Giorgio Chiellini, the Italy captain – who, with Leonardo Bonucci and Salvatore Sirigu were the big-brother trio in this young, Euro-champions team.

Can I take it?” Chiellini asks about the trophy, signifying the fun, joy, brotherhood, humility that have defined the Italian journey from the under 20s, to the clubs, to the team chef bringing his own pizza oven to their camp from Naples, right to Insigne, Lorenzo Il Magnifico, with his devastating goals and less-than devastating DJing. And to Chiesa, a country’s invocation now, more than a name. Post-match he’s caught instructing his phone “Chiama Mamma”’. Call Mom. Florenzi holds his medal up to the TV camera. “Guarda Mamma. Guarda Qua”. “Look at this Mom”. It was definitely coming home.


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