Roberto Mancini failed to win international silverware during his decade as an Italy international, but the Azzurri manager could have more success as the team’s manager at Euro 2020.
Mancini, 56, earned 36 caps for his country and was part of the team that made it to the semi-finals of the 1988 European Championship before retiring from the international game in 1994.
While his on-field influence for Italy might have ended more than a quarter-of-a-century ago, that doesn’t mean the Sampdoria legend doesn’t still possess his old bag of tricks.
And Mancini showcased a snippet of his skill during Sunday’s Group A climax against Wales, nonchalantly caressing a clearance with his heel as it flew over his head.
Dressed the part in shirt and tie, the former Manchester City and Inter Milan coach looked anything but restricted as he took all pace out of the ball after it fell from the heavens.
The Stadio Olimpico responded with applause after Mancini’s no-look flick, though Italy’s fans have other reasons to show appreciation for the head coach:
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The Azzurri came into Sunday’s clash two points clear atop their pool, looking to become the first team at Euro 2020 to win all three of their first-round fixtures.
Mancini rung the changes by swapping nine players into his side for the decisive match against Wales, who entered the fixture sat second in Group A.
The new-look lineup nevertheless had success early on in Rome, where Atalanta defender Matteo Pessina put the hosts ahead shortly before half-time.
The home side’s chances improved again after Ethan Ampadu was sent off for a reckless challenge early in the second half.
Italy had won their previous 10 games coming into Sunday’s encounter, unbeaten in their last 29 games and having failed to concede in more than 16 hours of play.
There’s little evidence to suggest those who played the game professionally make superior managers or vice-versa, but certain stars may respond better to a coach who’s walked a mile in their shoes.
In that sense, Mancini—who scored 171 goals in 567 appearances for Sampdoria—will only continue to inspire his Azzurri players as they extend their impressive start to Euro 2020.
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