Matteo Pessina reveals that Roberto Mancini ‘only asked two things’ of Italy during the Euros and insists Atalanta can ‘do better’ than last season.
Pessina was part of the Azzurri squad that won UEFA Euro 2020. He scored two crucial goals for the Azzurri during the competition, one in the group stage against Wales and one in the Round of 16 against Austria.
“France, Belgium and England seemed full of champions, but I think Mancini has created a great team spirit since the very first moment,” the Atalanta midfielder told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
— La Gazzetta dello Sport (@Gazzetta_it) August 3, 2021
“I believe that from the outside, you felt that there really was a real union between us and, believe me, it is not easy to make it happen.
“Mancini immediately made us a group, not a sum of individuality. We realized that something magical was happening. [Salvatore] Sirigu and [Francesco] Acerbi repeated it during every training session.”
Pessina had initially been snubbed from the 26-man squad list but was reintroduced to the group after the injury of Stefano Sensi.
“I was the first one to feel sorry for his injury,” ensured Pessina.
“We suffered for him, [Leonardo] Spinazzola and [Lorenzo] Pellegrini, but their sorrow has made us even more united.
“Mancini only gave us two tactical duties. Defend and attack, then he told us to have fun,” Pessina continued.
“Even before the Final, he told us to do what we knew. He gave us responsibility but no pressure.
“Vialli worked on the emotional side. Before the games, he made speeches capable of exciting us as much as he was excited about making them. There was a ‘moral’ tension mixed with ambition and joy,” the midfielder continued.
The 24-year-old went on to explain the different leadership models in the Azzurri dressing room.
“Chiellini and Bonucci are both leaders. They are different. Giorgio seems more like a father, Leo is harsher, but they have exceptional charisma.
“They know how to help those who make mistakes and say the right thing at the right time. They are loyal and know how to suffer. They never give up.”
Pessina sees his Atalanta contract expire in June 2025 and hopes La Dea can achieve more than a top-four finish next season.
La Dea was the best Italian club in the Champions League over the last two seasons, having reached the quarter-finals in 2020 and the Round of 16 (same stage as Juventus) last term.
“I hope fans will return to stadiums next season. The last one was a terrible season due to the COVID pandemic,” the Italian midfielder said.
“Atalanta are a role model in terms of organization and I can only say we can further improve. I can’t say more, otherwise, the coach would reproach me.”
Pessina joined Atalanta from Milan in 2017 and went on loan to Spezia and Hellas Verona before returning to Bergamo, where he has four goals and three assists in 59 appearances across all competitions.