For a population who loves pizza, pasta, and tiramisu, Italians are unnaturally good at physical activity.
In fact, Italy is officially one of the most successful nations in football history, having won the European Championship twice and the World Cup a whopping four times – only surpassed by Brazil, the goats of our beautiful game.
The Azzurri’s most recent triumph came at Euro 2020 when they defeated England on penalties in their own backyard and only took the big trophy for the second time. Roberto Mancini’s men were the outstanding team in the competition and deserved their success immensely.
But where is this memorable day in the long list of Italian tournament victories?
I’m not funny, but the old-time European Championship – which started their last tournament in the semifinals – wasn’t exactly the big, prestigious thing it is today.
A typical example of this was when Italy won a COIN TOUR for the final after beating the Soviet Union 0-0 in the semifinals.
The final also ended in a draw, but at least Italy won the replay instead of relying on the luck of a coin again.
Oh, and the whole thing was played in Italy and everyone knows that winning a trophy on home soil is basically a crime and nullifies all accomplishments, right?
That’s why England let Italy win at Wembley I think …
Similar to the Euro 1968, the 1934 World Cup was held in Italy. Gosh, can’t Italy even win a tournament outside of their own country ?! Spoiler alert: you can.
Either way, Italy overtook Spain and Austria before triumphing over Czechoslovakia in the final – in Rome. again.
Four years later, Italy became world champions again. This time they made it to France, beating Norway, hosts France, Brazil and Hungary and becoming the first ever defending champions.
The legendary Giuseppe Meazza was at the center of their success, along with Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola, who scored doubles in the quarterfinals and the finals.
Memorable names, even in today’s era of kalcio.
Timeliness aside, this will be considered one of Italy’s greatest achievements, but not tea Best. The Azzurri and Andrea Bocelli started the tournament in style, winning 3-0 one after another against Turkey and Switzerland before finishing the group stage without conceding a goal.
Mancini’s men then sneaked past Austria, dug in to knock out one of Belgium’s pre-tournament favorites, and broke the hearts of the Spaniards on penalties.
In fact, they liked this last method so much that they decided to give England and their expectant home audience the same treatment a few days later.
Rome is coming!
This was a magical summer in the history of Italy. As always, it was a heroic tale when Paolo Rossi, who had returned from a two-year match-fixing ban, exploded on the world stage to fire his nation to glory.
After a rusty start to the 1982 World Cup, he finished the competition with six goals, scored a hat trick against Brazil, a semi-final double against Poland and the start of the grand final against West Germany.
He and his teammates went down in history as the first Italian to bring home world titles in the post-war era, and inscribed their names in the nation’s folklore for the ages.
Amid match-fixing scandals and a divided camp and country, Italy entered the 2006 World Cup with few expectations. The number of players was not as highly regarded as the 2002 edition, who felt unjustly excluded from the tournament by South Korea and Ecuadorian referee (now convicted drug smuggler) Byron Moreno.
But despite all the odds, Italy made their way to the semi-finals in 2006, defeating hosts Germany with two goals in added time in extra time and then defeating Zinedine Zidane and France on penalties.
From Francesco Totti’s last-minute winner against Australia, Fabio Cannavaro’s Ballon d’Or wins, Alessandro Del Piero’s goal against Germany to Fabio Grosso’s decisive penalty in the final, this tournament run experienced some absolutely iconic moments.
And that without mentioning a Marco Materazzi …