Leonardo Bonucci claimed the booing of the Italian national anthem by England fans helped to inspire the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory.
Italy beat England 3-2 on penalty kicks in Sunday’s final match at Wembley in London after the match had finished 1-1 following extra time.
Bonucci, who equalised to cancel out Luke Shaw’s opener and then converted his kick in the shootout, was a rock at the heart of Italy’s defence throughout the tournament.
Several incidents occurred outside the ground on Sunday, with groups of supporters without tickets managing to force entry into Wembley.
With an already tense atmosphere perhaps not aided by these scenes, boos rang around the stadium during the Italian anthem.
Bonucci, though, said the jeers only helped lift Roberto Mancini’s team and, in particular, his defensive partner Giorgio Chiellini.
“They whistled the anthem. They thought they had brought it home,” Bonucci said.
“This, to me and the old man there [Chiellini], did nothing but increase our motivation. It was a personal satisfaction for me and Giorgio, who have not always been getting the praise we deserved.”
Italy paraded the trophy in an open-top bus tour on Monday and Bonucci dedicated the win to those who had lost loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.
Italy is one of the worst-hit nations in Europe.
He also paid tribute to Azzurri legend Paolo Rossi, who died from lung cancer in December last year.
“The dedication goes to those who left us in this year and a half,” Bonucci added.
“Among so many champions, as done for Davide Astori, I want to make a special dedication to Paolo Rossi, a great man.
“The cup is for him and the Italians who have suffered.”(dpa/NAN)