Antonio Conte feels he has left Italy with an important legacy and “created something magical” until defeat to Germany on penalties.
The Nazionale held the World Cup holders to a 1-1 draw and only capitulated in a sudden death shoot-out in the Euro 2016 quarter-final.
“I think Germany had huge respect for Italy and the fact they changed tactical system to face us shows just how much they respected us,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“It was a tough game in every respect. I will not forget that in the first half Stefano Sturaro had this knee sprain and carried on to the end stoically. I would’ve honestly struggled to find another.”
Sturaro was only starting because Daniele De Rossi and Antonio Candreva were injured with Thiago Motta suspended, not to mention Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio missing the tournament entirely.
“The legacy of this team is proving where there’s a will, there’s a way. With hard work you can achieve unthinkable results, so it’s a shame to go out like this.
“We were even in the lead before the fourth penalty, but Germany are a very strong side. Just staying toe-to-toe with them is a small reason to be satisfied. We believed in our chances and at the end the disappointment was immense.
“We tried to cling on to the end. Football gives you such joy, but also great bitterness. We go home aware that we gave everything we could over these two fantastic years, culminating in an incredible month and a half.
“I will never tire of thanking all 23 players, the staff, the medics and kit staff. We had created something magical here.
“My greatest victory was working with this group, as they truly gave me everything. When you have that, there can be no recriminations or regrets.
“They went beyond the obstacles and I think it’s only right that people appreciate that. When you see work, sacrifice and enthusiasm… I think these are the best values to transmit to fans during the games.”
Conte moves on to Chelsea and his replacement will be former Torino Coach Giampiero Ventura.
“I leave a small tank. Aside from going out, the idea was to build something and today we proved that we did. Germany and everyone had to respect Italy in this tournament.
“I think there’s a generation that can grow, as many in this group were at their first tournament. We’ve set out a path and must continue on it. The Federation will make every choice possible to continue this work.
“We need to see love for the Nazionale and I hope that message came across despite the elimination.”