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Gabriel Lima's guide to champions Italy

Published: Saturday 8 February 2014, 22.00CET
From Robocop and Grumpy to the joker and the sweet-eater, Italy captain Gabriel Lima (who does NOT have big feet) introduces the Azzurri squad that has won the 2014 final.
by Gabriel Lima
from Antwerp
Gabriel Lima's guide to champions Italy
Italy: the European champions ©Sportsfile
 

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Published: Saturday 8 February 2014, 22.00CET

Gabriel Lima's guide to champions Italy

From Robocop and Grumpy to the joker and the sweet-eater, Italy captain Gabriel Lima (who does NOT have big feet) introduces the Azzurri squad that has won the 2014 final.

1 Stefano Mammarella (goalkeeper, Marina CSA)
He is the main exponent of Italian futsal. He has been selected twice as best goalkeeper in the world. He is a calm and humble lad and this is his main strength. Having him defending our goal gives us huge confidence. I'm not sure where his nickname – 'il cucchia' (spoon) – comes from ...

2 Marco Ercolessi (defender, Luparense C/5)
He is known as 'The Nose' to us and I don't think I need to explain this nickname. He is a guy in a great period of form, he won the Scudetto with his team a few months ago. We grew up together with the Under-21 national team and he is giving a lot to Italy in this tournament.

3 Gabriel Lima (defender, ASD Asti C/5)
They used to call me 'Big Feet' but I don't know why – my feet are not big! I'm learning so much in this tournament. It has been an incredible experience regardless of the result of the final. I have learnt a lot about every single team-mate and how to react to difficult moments. Most of all, I have learnt how important work off the pitch is to being successful in a tournament like this.

4 Sergio Romano (defender, Pescara C/5)
His surname say it all. He is Roman born and bred, Italian born and bred. And you can see it from his fighting spirit on the pitch. He recovered from a serious knee injury to be here with us showing great character. He showed the team that when you really want something you can achieve it. He was a good model for the rest of the team.

5 Luca Leggiero (defender, Pescara C/5)
He is probably the most popular player in the team. He is a funny guy and is always ready to joke and accept other people's jokes. 'Capoccia' – for his big head – is great in cementing this group and he is making a great contribution despite playing in a different role than his usual one. He is truly a key player for this squad.

6 Humberto Honorio (forward, Luparense C/5)
He can leave his mark against any opponent at any moment of the game with his talent with both feet. He is also a very calm guy, he does not talk much off the pitch, but on it you can really feel his presence.

7 Massimo De Luca (defender, Real Rieti C/5)
He is a great friend of mine. We have played great games together at Under-21 level, the [UEFA European Under-21 Futsal Tournament] final against Russia in 2008 included. Now we want revenge [for the 5-4 loss in extra time]. I'm very happy for him because he finally played [in the semi-final against Portugal after not appearing in the three previous matches] and 'il piccolo' (the small one) changed the whole game.

8 Vampeta (forward, ASD Asti C/5)
He is a guy I really admire, a real champion who always steps up in big games. He is very experienced. I like playing alongside him a lot because he is very intelligent. Vampeta is already a nickname because it was given to him after Vampeta, a former Inter player. He is a great storyteller! He always has one ready for any occasion, it doesn't matter what we are talking about, he comes up with a new story.

9 Fortino (forward, ASD Asti C/5)
Robocop! He is a special friend of mine. We are often together even away from futsal. He is a religious guy. He doesn't talk too much but has a great spirit. I really like spending time with him, he is a fantastic lad. He loves sweets, I think he eats 20 every day at least ...

10 Merlim (forward, Luparense C/5)
'Babalu', he has had this nickname for a long time, but I don't really know why. His technique is impressive and can always change a game in a fraction of a second. He is Italy's best player in one-to-one situations.

11 Saad Assis (forward, FC Barcelona)
We call him 'Grumpy' like one of the seven dwarves because his face always looks angry. In reality he is a very nice guy and all of us like to spend time with him. He is a real benchmark for us because he has achieved things that all of us dream of reaching some time in our careers.

12 Michele Miarelli (goalkeeper, Real Rieti C/5)
He is the computer genius. He helps to motivate the team with videos, but against Azerbaijan he also proved to be fully ready to play. He has improved drastically in recent years and you can see that also in the Italian league. He has great reflexes.

13 Daniel Giasson (defender, Pescara C/5)
He is a guy who has studied and I like the way he lives his life. He attended university – he is very similar to me in several aspects. He received some bad criticism in Italy ahead of the finals, but he has confirmed all his strength in this tournament. He is proving many critics wrong.

14 Murilo (defender, Marina CSA)
We understood that he was the last person to be included in the squad for the tournament. He is the leading scorer in Italy, he is enjoying a great period of form and playing a great tournament. 'Bellartinho' is giving us great help, especially when we have difficult moments, and he is called to mark our opponents' pivot.

Gabriel Lima was speaking to Paolo Menicucci

Last updated: 10/02/14 9.26CET

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