Captain Giorgio Chiellini warned Italy were raring to get their Euro 2020 campaign going to prove that they are back among the elite three years after missing out on the World Cup finals.
“The desire to rebuild, to relive a tournament as a protagonist is immense,” said the 36-year-old Juventus defender on the eve of their Euro opener against Turkey in Rome.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, losing a playoff to Sweden, and have won the European trophy just once in 1968.
“The defeat in Milan against Sweden stuck with us, we can never forget it, but we managed to turn disappointment into enthusiasm and the desire to do well,” continued Chiellini.
“We can’t wait to get out there and relive those emotions.”
Chiellini is Italy’s most experienced player with 107 caps spanning 17 years.
He played in the side that lost the Euro 2012 final to Spain, but has never won a trophy with the ‘Azzurri’.
“I believe to try to do something in this type of tournament it will also take a pinch of folly,” added the veteran defender.
Coach Roberto Mancini insisted the objective was also to provide entertainment in a tournament postponed for a year amid the pandemic.
“After everything that has happened I think it is important to entertain people,” said Mancini with the opening match played in front of 16 000 fans in a Stadio Olimpico at 25 per cent capacity.
“Certainly it would have been better to have more people, also considering how the situation is evolving.
“If the Olimpico had been full they would have been the 12th player on the pitch, but in any case we are playing in Rome, and 16 000 people is already a first step.”
Mancini’s Italy are looking to extend their 27-match unbeaten run.
“I was confident three years ago, even more today, we’ve forged an excellent team spirit,” added Mancini.
“The first match is always the most difficult, but we must be free mentally and do our job and be different, this is our goal.
“We worked well, we have good players and we have created an excellent group.
“Our desire to live this European Championship as protagonists is strong.
“We would like to continue having fun and maybe get to London.”