Leonardo Bonucci was in floods of tears after Italy’s defeat to Spain, but insists the victory was “shaking off the reputation of catenaccio.”
The defender was distraught at the final whistle of a 4-0 defeat that ended their Euro 2012 adventure.
“It’s a heavy blow. You can lose a Final, but it hurts to lose it like this,” he told Rai Sport.
“If we had been a different side from the start then we wouldn’t have lost 4-0. Spain probably would’ve won anyway, but we would’ve made it more difficult for them.
“There was also such bad luck with two thigh strains and no substitutions left, so that knocked the wind out of our sails.
“We came into the tournament off a friendly defeat to Russia, but we showed that we had character. That character was perhaps what was missing tonight, as we reached the Final completely exhausted.
“When you play certain games, everyone wants to push through the pain and be there. Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi looked tired yesterday, so they rested for the training session.
“I think we got the wrong approach from the start, as with a team of this level you can’t give them any space.
“We came on after the break with a different level of determination, but then Iker Casillas saving from Toto Di Natale and Thiago Motta’s injury knocked us for six. There was no way back.
“Spain are certainly a step above the rest and we have to keep working to reach their level, but we are on the right track.
“We have earned our identity, shaken off the reputation of catenaccio and must now continue along this path.”
Bonucci was part of an almost entirely Juventus-based defence along with Gigi Buffon, Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.
“When there is a block of players from the same club, they know each other well and so there was an excellent rapport. But this is also Cesare Prandelli’s side and he gave us an important identity, which was playing the ball at all times.
“We showed against a great side like Germany that we could be united, solid and determined enough to run the game. We were missing something this evening.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.