Cesare Prandelli reveals how much the mood has changed in the Italy camp. “I had to fire them up, but now I've got to hold back their enthusiasm.”
The Azzurri were in a deep funk after the dismal 2010 World Cup when Prandelli took over, but have qualified for Euro 2012 with a record-breaking campaign.
“This team is once again appreciated by the fans, but now we must take another step forward and make sure they are loved too,” he told Corriere Fiorentino newspaper.
“When I first arrived, I had to fire up the players and motivate them. Now I've got to hold back their enthusiasm, otherwise they'll take off! Just look at Gigi Buffon. He's not moaning now.”
Antonio Cassano scored a brace against Northern Ireland, but then revealed he was suffering from the same stress as Milan teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so would retire in three years.
“I understand them, as it is difficult to sustain certain pressure,” added Prandelli.
“Today's football puts players through the wringer and the worst aspect is you cannot go back.”