From listening to Stefano Mammarella, goalkeeper of ASD Città di Montesilvano C/5, you would think perhaps it was not such a surprise that the Italian club went and won the UEFA Futsal Cup at the first attempt.
Last season's futsal Serie A1 champions they may be, but Montesilvano came into this week's finals in Almaty with the least pedigree of the four participating teams. According to Mammarella, though, Fulvio Colini's side already had good reason to believe in their potential on European club futsal's highest stage.
For the 27-year-old, a key moment in their development from competition debutants to continental champions was beating MFK Sinara Ekaterinburg, who had won this tournament in 2008, in Russia in the elite round. That decisive 2-1 success, Mammarella told UEFA.com, was the prelude to their back-to-back triumphs over Portuguese heavyweights SL Benfica – whose crown they have taken – and Sporting Clube de Portugal at the Baluan Sholak Sport Palace.
"When we went to Russia in qualifying, we didn't think we could win the Futsal Cup," he said. "It is always difficult when you make your debut. But once we got here, and especially after the Benfica match, yes we thought we could win in a one-off game.
"Against Sinara in Ekaterinburg we played really well, and we've done the same against Benfica and Sporting. To play so well in a semi-final and a final, to brush aside Benfica 3-0 and Sporting 5-2, is unbelievable. We always believed in ourselves. It's just brilliant."
The winning margins achieved by the Adriatic outfit in Friday and Sunday's fixtures belie the huge amount of energy spent in containing and then outscoring such formidable opponents. However, there is a precedent for Montesilvano performing so lethally when medals are at stake. Mammarella, whose own championship was notable for the goal he lobbed over Benfica's replacement keeper to seal the semi-final victory, revealed: "When we won the Italian league last season, it was by 6-1, so we've taken that form, that rhythm, into this tournament. We have worked really hard so it hasn't been easy, but we have won these games by three goals."
The yellow-shirted custodian was man of the match against the deposed champions, and followed up that stellar show with another unyielding display that frustrated Sporting to the point of despair. By the time Leitão scored the Lisbon outfit's second-half double, Montesilvano were sat on a five-goal cushion. Not surprisingly, the director of the competition's outstanding defence said: "It is a pleasure to play with these boys who do everything to stop the ball getting through to my goal. Ultimately, this victory has been all about the heart."
©UEFA.com 1998-2016. All rights reserved.