FLORENCE — Italy’s match in opposition to England within the Euro 2021 finals is a few days sooner or later, however on Friday followers of the crew had been visiting its previous on the nationwide soccer corridor of fame in Florence.
They had been musing over the uniforms worn by Italy’s nationwide soccer crew since 1928 and admiring the shin guards utilized by the crew captain within the 2006 World Cup, which Italy received. Then somebody peeked exterior: There, within the distance, was somebody they acknowledged.
“His hair is flying,” stated Gabriele Faralli, a hospital physician within the close by city of Arezzo who had come to the museum along with his two sons. “That’s Coach Mancini,” he stated of Roberto Mancini, supervisor of the Italian nationwide crew, the Azzurri (or the Blues). Mr. Mancini, who stays with the crew on the Blues’ headquarters in Florence throughout tournaments, was coaching of their close by area.
In a second, all the vacationers on the museum, the Museo del Calcio, had been making an attempt to catch a glimpse of Coach Mancini, on whose shoulders relaxation the hopes of a nation badly battered by the coronavirus however making its manner out of the pandemic.
Mr. Faralli’s elder son Giulio, 8, expressed the fears seemingly haunting many Italian soccer followers as the match grows nearer.
“I am so worried about Sterling,” he stated referring to Raheem Sterling, a ahead for England’s nationwide crew. “He dribbles fast and defends the ball — and about Kane, so much technique and experience, and he scores,” a reference to Harry Kane, England’s captain.
As Italy moved ever nearer to the finals, increasingly guests, just like the Faralli household, have flocked to the museum.
“A winning national team attracts people from near and afar. That’s why visitors are growing,” stated Silvia Maci, the museum’s longtime secretary and an in depth collaborator of Fino Fini, a doctor who labored for the nationwide crew for 40 years and had the concept of making the museum within the Nineties.
The physician, a crew establishment, collected donations from the gamers and their households to construct a group that would set an instance for brand spanking new generations and spotlight the soccer glories of the previous.
Woolen jerseys in blue, white and even in black (from the fascist period) dangle from the museum’s partitions, some washed so many occasions that that they had shrunk. On a 1935 mild blue jersey, the mom of the participant Silvio Piola embroidered her son’s success, “Austria 0 Italy 2. Piola scored both goals. Piola’s first match with the national team.”
In 1982, Italy received the World Cup after beating Germany. To memorialize that point, two iconic pipes relaxation in a case, mendacity on a fake inexperienced area.
“That happiness in 1982, I still remember it,” stated Simona Rossi, a trainer from the close by metropolis of Arezzo who was visiting the museum along with her household. “The papers carried a picture of President Pertini and Coach Bearzot smoking those pipes. It was a symbol,” she stated, referring to President Alessandro Pertini of Italy and Coach Enzo Bearzot, who led the crew to victory.
Enthused by the crew’s victory within the World Cup, President Pertini flew the gamers again on the presidential airplane and performed playing cards with a few of them, the World Cup resting on the table.
Every 12 months is a giant soccer 12 months in Italy. When the nationwide league finishes, victorious followers parade via metropolis streets of their vehicles and mopeds. But it’s through the worldwide competitions that the Italian soccer fanaticism takes on a semblance of spiritual religion.
“God Is Italian,” learn the headline of a nationwide sports activities newspaper earlier this week, exalting a victory over Spain within the semifinals.
Despite pandemic restrictions that also require masks and social distancing, particularly indoors, folks have been watching the video games in giant crowds and celebrating on the streets.
“With all caution, people need some normality and the national team this year is a reason to be proud and joyful after so much suffering,” stated Daniele Magnani, an novice soccer coach, who was visiting the museum along with his spouse.
Mr. Magnani stated that he had at all times watched the worldwide competitions at residence, however this 12 months he was going to a public viewing in a big backyard within the jap Italian metropolis of Cesena the place he lives along with his household.
He famous that Coach Mancini not solely managed to rebuild the nationwide crew, he additionally galvanized Italians. Last 12 months, in homage to town of Bergamo’s early battle in opposition to Covid-19, the crew selected to play one among its first worldwide matches on the town, with solely medical staff watching.
Italy has had more moderen success than England, but in addition some current failures. In 2017 the crew suffered the humiliation of going residence from the World Cup on the finish of the group stage.
“There is a future for Italian soccer,” Gianluigi Buffon, Italy’s beloved goalkeeper, stated in tears throughout a tv interview after the defeat, whereas the interviewer positioned a hand on his shoulder.
“We have pride and strength, we are stubborn,” Mr. Buffon stated. “After such bad falls, we will find a way to get back up.”
“I’ve been playing soccer for three years,” the younger Giulio Faralli stated, exhibiting the three along with his fingers. “Can you imagine if they win on Sunday?”