There was no consoling the Italy players after they lost in heartbreaking fashion to Russia following a penalty shoot-out in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, yet coach Daniele Zoratto reassured them "there is nothing to be ashamed of".
He, along with captain Alberto Cerri and forward Luca Vido, all turned their focus to October's FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, where they will hope to go one better. There was pride in defeat, however. "We go home with our heads held high," said Parma FC striker Cerri.
Daniele Zoratto, Italy coach
It is a shame. We take away the fact that we played a great European Championship and I think we were the better team, but that was not enough. They did better in the penalty shoot-out, so in the end they won, and compliments to Russia, because the winners always deserve compliments.
We are disappointed not to have won, but you cannot say anything to these lads. They gave everything they have got, playing a great tournament, a fantastic tournament. It is also an achievement for Italy to have reached the final of a European Under-17 Championship for the first time and to have also qualified for the World Cup.
On the other hand, maybe it is better when you finish third because if you lose the semi-final then you think 'Fair enough, we did not make the final', but when you are runners-up, it is far worse. I am sadder for the lads. I have been through this myself as a player, both for the good and the bad, and I know what they are feeling. I cannot say anything to them because they have come a really long way and it was really unexpected, something which gives Italian clubs hope because to achieve something like this is very important.
There is nothing to be ashamed of. Close your eyes and it is October already. Hopefully in October, at the World Cup, we can be competitive and give a good account of ourselves.
Alberto Cerri, Italy captain
We definitely go home with our heads held high because we deserved to win, but penalties are a lottery and you need a lot of luck. The positives are that we go home having taken our place in history by becoming the first Italy U17s [side] to reach the final of a European Championship, and this is something to be really proud of. But then you are always disappointed and that is not going to go away immediately. You can have all the components you want, but, in the end, if luck is not on your side ...
For example, Croatia, for me, were the strongest side in the tournament and they were unlucky at times and did not even reach the semi-finals. Looking at it that way, we were maybe more lucky than they were, and Russia were luckier than us in this final. This is football and we will make up for it at the World Cup. I take penalties for my club so I am not scared of taking them. If you miss, you miss, but the important thing is you take them with conviction and do not have fear. We will try to switch off this summer and then think about the World Cup.
Luca Vido, Italy forward
We are really sorry about the result, but the World Cup is not that far away and we will do everything there. We tried to win, we gave it our all, but destiny was not on our side. We were unlucky and not very accurate. We were not able to score and we are all really disappointed. That is life, we cannot do anything now. We did well up until today, but today the final did not go the best of ways, but we know how to lift ourselves again, for sure.
It has been very emotional, because I did not even know I had been called up. It was a great achievement to get here. We go home with our heads more than held high. We were a too wasteful, but I think we should have won. We only conceded two goals, so credit to our defenders who were also able to score. So thanks to them and thanks to the whole team that we are here.
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