Gianluigi Buffon admits he “feared an upset,” but also took credit for advising Alessandro Diamanti on the decisive penalty.
“Of course I feared an upset, as when a lottery starts you can be lucky to win or unlucky to lose,” he said of the shoot-out quarter-final victory.
“Over the 120 minutes we deserved this victory, as we had more chances, dominated possession and in my view we were better than England.”
Things were looking bleak when Riccardo Montolivo turned his spot-kick wide to give England the advantage.
“I didn’t think anything, just that I had to make as many saves as possible, because my teammates deserved it for their 120 minutes of football – and so did I!
“It was good to block Ashley Cole’s penalty, as I imagined many people with trepidation at that moment as well as us. Of course my thoughts went to those affected by the earthquake, then all our fans who follow us with such passion from home.”
Andrea Pirlo took an audacious chipped penalty in the Francesco Totti style.
“I didn’t see any of Italy’s penalties, as I never do,” continued Buffon.
“I will admit one thing and take some credit! I told Diamanti to spread the penalty wide, as he is so famous for keeping them tight. I told him Hart must’ve seen the tapes and studied him, so he had to change.
“We have quality, but also the ability to make every match even, whether against smaller or bigger teams. That can be a strength or a weakness, but today we thoroughly deserved the victory.
“We had more physically and in terms of quality, which was clear for all to see. There is a sort of sporting justice that evens things out in the end.”
Italy now reach the Euro 2012 semi-finals against tournament favourites Germany.
“As I said before this tournament, I’d have been happy to reach the semi-finals, as it is a respectable achievement with teams like Spain, Germany and even Holland who on paper were superior.
“We have therefore hit the target I set and must now try to push a little further, because we can do it.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.