Leonardo Spinazzola admits he feels more nervous cheering on Italy than if he’d been preparing to play England in the UEFA EURO 2020 Final, but he’ll be there at Wembley on Sunday.
It kicks off on Sunday at 20.00 UK time and the Roma left-back has confirmed he’ll fly in to watch his teammates from the stands.
“I’m more emotional now than if I was part of the squad preparing for the game. I feel the tension more from here,” confessed Spinazzola on Sky Sport Italia.
He had to pull out of the tournament after pulling up during the quarter-final against Belgium with a torn Achilles tendon, which will rule him out of action for at least seven to eight months.
“I am here with my family, my wife, my children, I try to focus on all the good things that I have in life and build on those.”
The Azzurri teammates continued to make Spinazzola feel part of the group even after he had left the camp, singing the fan chant for ‘Spina’ and wearing his jersey after the semi-final win over Spain.
“I was there for two hours on a videocall thanking them with all my heart, as it was really incredible. I waited for them to get back on the team bus and they sand that chant for me again. I knew that they’d be in a marvellous Final on Sunday and I can’t wait.”
Spinazzola won two UEFA Man of the Match awards in the only four games he played at EURO 2020 before the devastating injury.
It had earned him plaudits from all over Europe, including links with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool.
“I did realise this was the biggest stage of my career, so to perform like that was incredible. I did believe in myself, but it still felt extraordinary to be there.
“The crucial thing is to always get back on your feet, never stop believing in yourself, but then you do need a little bit of luck. Incidents, injuries and in my case a change of role made a huge difference in my career path.
“I never scored many goals and I was told at Siena that to play at the top level, I’d have to become a full-back rather than an attacking winger. I just didn’t have that burning desire within me to score goals.”
What he did always have was pace, as he remains the quickest player at EURO 2020 with a top speed of 33.8km/h.
Spinazzola was asked what if he thinks Italy can get the victory at Wembley on Sunday against England.
“I hope so. I think it’s 50-50. England have extraordinary individuals like Rashford, Sancho and Foden on the bench, who are young, but phenomenal. That shows you how strong the team is.
“This will be a tough game, but we are a great side and we can do it.”