Leonardo Bonucci has continued to rub salt into the wounds of England after Italy’s success in the Euro 2020 final, saying Declan Rice played a part in motivating the tournament winners.
West Ham midfielder Rice said ahead of the final in July that England would be 10 times more ready than their opponents for the Wembley showpiece.
Those words, and the repetitive playing of England’s Three Lions song after the country’s semi-final win over Denmark, fuelled Bonucci and his team-mates, who ultimately won the competition on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
“We didn’t pay much attention to it [the Three Lions song] until the Spain game,” Bonucci, who ridiculed England’s ‘It’s Coming Home’ catchphrase on the pitch after Italy’s win, said in an interview with The Athletic.
“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.”
Italy also won their semi-final against Spain on penalties, and Bonucci felt Roberto Mancini’s men had the right mix of confidence and humility.
The Juventus defender added: “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.”