Leonardo Bonucci promises to hug the confused steward – who mistook centre-back as pitch invader and wouldn’t allow him past after semi-final win against Spain – if Italy beat England at Wembley on Sunday
If Italy beat England on Sunday, Leonardo Bonucci has promised to find and hug the steward who mistook him for a pitch invader following their semi-final victory over Spain.
The veteran centre back was stopped by the steward as he tried to make his way back towards his team-mates having celebrated with supporters at Wembley.
After realising her mistake, Bonucci was allowed through, but only after giving the embarrassed woman a hug. And the 34-year-old says he will do the same after the final.
Leonardo Bonucci has promised to find and hug the female steward who mistook him for a pitch invader if Italy win Euro 2020
Bonucci went over to the crowd to celebrate beating Spain in the semi-finals on penalties
‘It was a funny experience. I hugged her, and she was a bit cold!’ said Bonucci. ‘They do a very tough job. They spend hours keeping the fans at bay. So if I recognise her at the end of the final, I will hug her again.’
Bonucci will line up alongside Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of Italy’s defence, where they have the task of stopping Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling — who have seven goals between them at this tournament.
However, when Bonucci went to return to the pitch he was grabbed by a confused steward
‘The English forwards are great players,’ said Bonucci.
‘We need to pay a lot of attention to their pace. But England also do not concede many shots. We will need to be smart to get through this great defence. I have always said that England were one of the favourites, and now they’re in the final with us.’
Italy are on the back of a 33-game unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini and Bonucci believes the one-year delay to Euro 2020 has aided their cause.
‘When Mancini came, he gave us confidence.
Italy will be tasked with stopping Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling in the final against England
Bonucci will line up alongside Juventus team-mate Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of Italy’s defence
‘He gave us the willingness to start from scratch,’ the defender said. ‘What helped was the additional year of experience, for the young players and us veterans. It allowed us to be here and believing in something that did not feel possible a few years ago.
‘Mancini gave us self-esteem, enthusiasm. He made us believe that his way was the best way. But having the talent on the pitch also makes it easier.’
Of his friendship with Chiellini, Bonucci revealed: ‘When the Euros end on the 11th, we will go on holiday together. So this sums up our relationship, inside and outside the pitch.’