For a population that loves pizza, pasta and tiramisu, Italians are unnaturally good at physical activity.
In fact, Italy is officially one of the most successful nations in football history, having won the European Championship twice and the World Cup a lot four times – only improved by Brazil, the goats in our beautiful game.
Azzurri’s latest triumph came at Euro 2020, when they gave England penalties in their own backyard and lifted the big trophy for the second time. Roberto Mancini’s men were the front page of the competition and deserved their success immensely.
But where does this memorable day rank in Italy’s long list of tournament wins?
Left: ? Euro 1968 Correct:? # EURO2020 Congratulations Italy twice wins European Championship #ForzaAzzuri pic.twitter.com/oEXDLZ55Ar
– Mazzini (@mazzini_gsp) July 12, 2021
I’m not funny, but the old days – which began their last tournament in the semi-final phase – were not really the big, prestigious deal it is today.
Case in point, Italy won a COIN TOSS to qualify for the final after drawing 0-0 with the Soviet Union in their semi.
The final also ended in a draw, but at least Italy won the replay rather than relying on luck for a coin again.
Oh and it was all played in Italy, and everyone knows that winning a trophy at home is basically a crime and means that all performances are suspended, right?
That’s why England let Italy win at Wembley, I think …
@azzurri World Cup 1934 pic.twitter.com/SjPwSC8jXd
– Joey55 (@JBertuna) July 15, 2021
In the same way as Euro 1968, the 1934 World Cup was held in Italy. Goodness, can not Italy win a tournament outside its own country for once ?! Spoiler alert: they can.
However, after beating the United States, which probably shook baseball flaps in arms, unaware of the tournament they had entered, Italy went beyond Spain and Austria before defeating Czechoslovakia in the final – in Rome, again.
@azzurri World Cup 1938 pic.twitter.com/BSwl9i8KTU
– Joey55 (@JBertuna) July 15, 2021
Four years later, Italy once again became world champion. This time they did it in France and beat Norway, hosting France, Brazil and Hungary to become the first ever defending champion.
The legendary Giuseppe Meazza was the core of their success along with Gino Colaussi and Silvio Piola, who made positions in the quarterfinals and finals.
Memorable names, even in today’s era of calcio.
Rightful Winners / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images
Newcomer bias aside, this will go down as one of Italy’s greatest achievements, but not the best. Azzurri and Andrea Bocelli started the tournament in style and completed 3-0 victories against Turkey and Switzerland before ending the group stage without conceding a goal.
Mancini’s men then snuck past Austria, dug in to knock out one of the favorites before the tournament Belgium and broke Spanish hearts in a penalty shootout.
In fact, they enjoyed the latter method so much, they decided to give England and their future home crowd the same treatment a few days later.
Rome is coming!
Paolo Rossi, Hero of Italy / Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images
This was a magical summer in the history of Italy. As always, it was a story of heroes, when Paolo Rossi, who returned from a two-year match-fixing ban, exploded on the world stage to kick his nation to glory.
After a rusty opening to the 1982 World Cup, he finished the competition with six goals and scored a hat-trick against Brazil, a semi-final competition against Poland and the initiator of the grand final against West Germany.
He and his teammates went down in history as the first crop of Italians to take home the World Cup glory in the post-war period and write their names in the country’s folklore for eternity.
Legends / Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
In the midst of match-fixing scandals and a fragmented camp and country, Italy entered the 2006 World Cup with little expectation. The harvest of players was not as revered as the 2002 edition, which considered that they had been unfairly started from the tournament by South Korea and the Ecuadorian referee (now convicted drug smuggler) Byron Moreno.
Against all odds, Italy died in the road to the semi-finals in 2006, the hosts defeated Germany by two injury goals in overtime, and then defeated Zinedine Zidane and France to claim the trophy on penalties.
From Francesco Totti’s last minute winner against Australia, Fabio Cannavaro’s Ballon d’Or winning displays, Alessandro Del Piero’s goal against Germany, to Fabio Grosso’s decisive penalty in the final, this tournament had some absolutely iconic moments.
And that is without even mentioning a Marco Materazzi …