Italy are playing in their third UEFA European Championship against Spain, having won the 1968 competition following a replay after famously getting through the semi-finals on the toss of a coin. However, as coach Dino Zoff recalls, their luck ran out in 2000, when a late lapse in Rotterdam cost them victory against France, as they succumbed to David Trezeguet's golden goal in extra time.
Pietro Anastasi: In the first final, Yugoslavia played better than us, and they deserved to have got to the final more than us, but they were 1-0 up when, ten minutes from the end, we had that bit of good luck that you need. Dominghini took a free-kick from just outside the box, their defensive wall opened up, the ball went through the wall and it finished 1-1. Then after two days there was this replay, the second final.
We can say that we played well in the second final. I would not say that we were dominant but we did not steal anything. If Yugoslavia deserved to win the first match, the second was a hard-fought game, but I think we won it on merit, with the first goal scored by Riva and then the second one which I scored myself.
To this day, I don't understand how I managed to score it. Well you can imagine, a 20-year-old boy who is playing his first international games, and then in the second final to manage to make it 2-0, and score the peace-of-mind goal. I saw this ball in the air, I did this half turn, I shot and I was lucky enough to put it in the right corner and I went crazy, jumping like a camel, a kangaroo rather. It was… I don't know how to say... at 20 you think about so many things. It was amazing.
02/07/2000 France 2-1 Italy (Rotterdam)
Dino Zoff: Toldo made some fairly good saves. They didn't cause us any trouble – unfortunately! – right up until the 93rd minute. When they scored from Barthez's long ball, touched by Cannavaro then by Henry and Wiltord, that was fate. On the pitch, from a technical point of view, they didn't give us any particular headaches. Unfortunately, we didn't have the strength to respond. I was trying to encourage them before extra time, but the blow was so big.
In that 20 seconds at the end of the game, we just lacked something, but that's probably just fate. We had been lucky against the Netherlands [winning the semi-final on penalties after a goalless draw]. I am a realist, but they cannot come and tell me that France did anything extraordinary. It was just France's moment.
Paolo Maldini: We had a great time at those finals. We formed a very compact group and things worked out well until very close to the end. Thirty seconds before the end of that final, we were champions of Europe. We had four good chances to clinch the win. However, we were up against a team that didn't give up and they managed to pull level in the last 30 seconds of the game.
We immediately realised we'd lost the game. We'd played an extremely tough semi-final against the Netherlands and had one fewer day to recover than France. So, psychologically, everything was in their favour. I would say that goal counted as double. It was an equaliser, but at the same time it was the winning goal. During the interval between normal time and the start of extra time, we told each other we had to pick ourselves up and win the final. But they were just words because I think that, deep inside, we knew the equaliser had been a crucial psychological blow.
It doesn't sound very nice to put it that way, but it's the truth. We were very tired and some of the players had started getting cramp. It was the result of all the tension, because during the rest of the match we'd been very strong as we were convinced we were going to win.
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