Claudio Marchisio admits there were tense and “surreal” moments when waiting to hear the Spain result that sparked Italian celebrations.
Although the Azzurri beat the Republic of Ireland 2-0, it would not have been enough to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals if Croatia had equalised against Spain.
“We didn’t know the result and couldn’t really hear what the bench was telling us. It was even more emotional as we had to wait to find out what Spain did, but a new Euros begins for us now,” explained Marchisio.
“I saw Gigi Buffon coming to the corner and thought ‘oh no, is it 1-1?’ but it hadn’t finished yet. It was surreal waiting for the news to come through, but then we all got to celebrate together.”
Italy finally got a victory after two consecutive 1-1 draws against Spain and Croatia.
“We brought on players who helped make the difference and we were determined to the very end. We suffered on Ireland’s long ball game, but overall deserved it and played well.
“We played on a par with Spain and they are the strongest side in the world, so we proved ourselves here and can build on that performance.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.