FLORENCE, Italy — Even though Italy’s match against England in the Euro 2021 finals is only a few days away, fans of the team spent Friday at the national football hall of fame in Florence remembering the team’s glory days from decades ago.
In their conversation, they talked about the uniforms that have been worn by Italy’s national soccer team since 1928, as well as the shin guards that were worn by the team captain during the 2006 World Cup, which Italy won. It was only then that someone looked out the window and saw someone they were familiar with in the distance.
In the words of Gabriele Faralli, a hospital doctor from the nearby town of Arezzo who had come to the museum with his two sons, “his hair is in full flight.” The Azzurri are the national team of Italy, and their manager is Roberto Mancini, who he referred to as “Coach Mancini” (or the Blues). Mr. Mancini, who travels with the team to tournaments and stays with them at the Blues’ headquarters in Florence, was training on the team’s nearby field.
The Museo del Calcio was packed with football fans eager to catch a glimpse of Coach Mancini, who stands on the shoulders of a nation that has been devastated by the coronavirus but is on the verge of escaping the pandemic. It was a surreal moment.
Mr. Faralli’s older son Giulio, who is eight years old, expressed the anxieties that are likely to be plaguing many Italian soccer fans as the match draws closer.
The forward for England’s national team, Raheem Sterling, was the subject of his remarks: “I am extremely concerned about Sterling.” “He dribbles quickly and defends the ball — and about Kane, he has so much technique and experience, and he scores,” the commentator said, referring to England captain Harry Kane.
Visitors to the museum have increased in number as Italy has progressed closer to the finals, including families like the Faralli family, who have been coming for years.
“A winning national team attracts fans from near and far,” says the coach. In part, this is why the museum’s visitor numbers are increasing,” said Silvia Maci, the museum’s longtime secretary and a close collaborator of Fino Fini, a physician who served the national team for 40 years and was responsible for coming up with the idea to establish the museum in the 1990s.
The doctor, who was considered a team institution, solicited donations from players and their families in order to build a collection that would serve as a model for future generations while also highlighting the achievements of the team’s past.
Woolen jerseys in various colours, including blue, white, and even black (from the fascist era), hang from the museum’s walls, some of which have been washed so many times that they have shrunk in size. On the back of a light blue jersey worn by Silvio Piola in 1935, his mother embroidered the words “Austria 0 Italy 2″ to commemorate her son’s victory. Piola was responsible for both goals. This will be Piola’s first match with the national team.”
Italy won the World Cup in 1982 after defeating Germany in the final. Two iconic pipes are displayed in a case on a fake green field as a tribute to that period in history.
It was 1982 when Simona Rossi, a teacher from the nearby city of Arezzo, was visiting the museum with her family. “That happiness in 1982, I still remember it,” she said. “A picture of President Pertini and Coach Bearzot smoking those pipes appeared in the newspapers. ”It was a symbol,” she said, referring to Italian President Alessandro Pertini and coach Enzo Bearzot, who guided the team to victory.
President Pertini, buoyed by the team’s World Cup victory, flew the players home on the presidential plane and engaged in a game of cards with some of them, with the World Cup on the table.
Every year in Italy is a big soccer year, and this is no exception. When the national league season comes to a close, the winning fans take to the streets in their cars and mopeds to celebrate. However, it is during international competitions that the Italian soccer fanaticism takes on the appearance of religious faith for a brief period of time.
This week, the headline of a national sports newspaper declared, “God is Italian,” in celebration of Italy’s semifinal victory over Spain in the World Cup.
Despite pandemic restrictions that continue to require masks and social distancing, particularly indoors, people have flocked to the games in large numbers and celebrated on the streets as the games ended in victory.
In spite of all precautions, people require some sense of normalcy, and the national team’s success this year is a reason to be proud and joyful after so much suffering, according to Daniele Magnani, an amateur soccer coach who was visiting the museum with his wife.
After years of watching international competitions from the comfort of his own home, Mr. Magnani announced that he would be attending this year’s public viewing at a large garden in the eastern Italian city of Cesena, where he and his family currently reside.
He stated that Coach Mancini not only succeeded in rebuilding the national team, but he also inspired the Italian people. To pay homage to the city of Bergamo’s early battle against Covid-19, the team chose to play one of its first international matches in Bergamo last year, in front of only medical professionals in attendance.
Italy has enjoyed more recent success than England, but it has also suffered some recent setbacks as well. In 2017, the team was humiliated by the fact that they were eliminated from the World Cup at the end of the group stages.
Italy’s beloved goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon broke down in tears during a television interview following the defeat, as the interviewer placed a hand on his shoulder. “There is a future for Italian soccer,” Buffon said.
“We have a lot of pride and determination, and we are stubborn,” Mr. Buffon stated. “Even after such devastating defeats, we will find a way to rise above it.”
Three years have passed since the young Giulio Faralli began playing soccer, as evidenced by his index and middle finger points. “Can you imagine if they win on Sunday?” says the author.