Italy had all of the motivation in the world to beat England at Wembley as they were crowned Euro 2020 champions back in July.
The Azzurri had impressed throughout the tournament, but most of the attention in England was very much on their home side, and Italy’s strengths were largely overlooked in the English press.
Adding to the repeated chants of ‘football’s coming home’, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice’s pre-final words that the Three Lions would be more motivated than the Azzurri only served to make Italy want to win even more.
“We didn’t pay much attention to it until the Spain game,” Bonucci told The Athletic, referring to the ‘football’s coming home’ chants. “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 ten 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.”