Riccardo Montolivo admits “it was terrible” when he missed a penalty in the shoot-out, but relieved as Italy did send England out.
“It was terrible. The world collapses on to your shoulders. Anyone can miss a penalty, but at that moment it was so tough,” confessed the midfielder.
His was the only Italian miss, while Ashley Young hit the bar and Ashley Cole’s spot-kick was saved by Gigi Buffon.
“Thankfully we have Gigi and a crossbar, so it went well in the end. When I saw it hit the bar I felt better, though my teammates had reassured me anyway when I got back to the centre-circle.
“We still had faith, as we played a great game and did not deserve to go out.
“I haven’t played 90 minutes for a long time, let alone 120, and they felt like a lot on my legs.
“The 2010 World Cup was an ugly time and we are trying to forget it, but this Italy side should make the nation proud.”
Montolivo will be particularly eager to face Germany in the semi-final on Thursday, as his mother is German and he speaks the language fluently.