Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini admitted the Azzurri have ‘great respect for Spain’ and said he was ‘ashamed as an Italian and a Tuscan’ after the racial abuse of Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Azzurri centre-back spoke at the press conference ahead of the UEFA Nations League semi-final against Spain at San Siro, three months after beating La Roja on penalties at the Euros.
“The memory of the match against Spain at the Euros is still imprinted in our heads and hearts,” Chiellini said at a press conference. “We must be on from the very beginning.
“We have great respect for Spain, we have to manage the various phases of the match better.”
Chiellini recalls the many battles with La Roja and the EURO 2012 Final in Kiev comes to mind.
“The Final in Kiev against Spain is the match that evokes my worst memories,” he said. “The best ones come from the semi-final.
“The match we dominated them the most, however, is in my opinion during the European Championship in 2016.
“I have never hidden that, among the Spanish players, I have always admired Sergio Ramos.”
Chiellini won his first European trophy this summer, as he has never lifted a European title with Juventus.
“It didn’t matter to me not to have won at European level, but the emotions experienced where an indescribable charge. It gave me a great boost to always be here and to approach the games and situations light-heartedly.”
There are six Juventus players in the current Italy squad, and Chiellini added: “We are more Italian, there are many Italians in the running and therefore the coach has more choices. It’s a mathematical question.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic still has an impact at Milan in Serie A, despite turning 40 this month, and Chiellini was asked if he is the defensive Ibra.
“Ibra is Ibra,” he said. “He is such a tall entity that lets him stay there. I’m enjoying this old age of football, I have fun and see where I will arrive, with so many lads who give me energy.”
The problem of racism in Serie A has been a hot topic in recent weeks and Chiellini spoke about the incident from the match between Fiorentina and Napoli last weekend.
“It’s unacceptable,” Chiellini said. “We need laws and rules that are applied, this is the most important thing.
“I was ashamed, as an Italian and a Tuscan, also because Italy is not a racist country for me. Something more must be done, otherwise from the outside, we give a bad image of ourselves.”