"Let's see where this dream takes us," said Italy coach Devis Mangia as he told UEFA.com about the Azzurrini's campaign, their semi-final opponents and learning from Arrigo Sacchi.
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Devis Mangia is "dreaming" that his Italy side can clinch a record sixth UEFA European Under-21 Championship crown in Israel. The Azzurrini coach spoke to UEFA.com about semi-final opponents the Netherlands, producing the perfect balance between results and performances, and Arrigo Sacchi's tutelage.
UEFA.com: How pleased are you to reach the semi-finals?
Devis Mangia: We're very happy, not just for what we've achieved but also for how we've achieved it. We've really put on a good display in terms of the quality of our play. These guys are representing Italian football very well. We're a positive side, we always want to take the game to our opponents, this is the most important thing.
UEFA.com: What was your target before the start of the tournament?
Mangia: The only target we actually set ourselves was to get here, so this was our minimum goal.
We knew it would be tough against the teams in our group but our lads have played well. We said we came here to dream. We're still dreaming now and let's see where this dream takes us.
UEFA.com: What do think about the Netherlands, Italy's semi-final opponents?
Mangia: They made some big calls in terms of squad selection. They called up a number of players who have already played in the senior squad. They're a team who play at a really high level, they've got a lot of talent.
UEFA.com: Besides results, how important is it to play good football?
Mangia: It's essential. Since I took over, we've always said it's important to win, but the way you win is even more important. The lads have put that into practice perfectly.
UEFA.com: You are a pupil of Arrigo Sacchi – what role has he played in your coaching career?
Mangia: He was very important for me. I started to look at and analyse football in a different way when he was in charge of AC Milan and then the national team. His way of playing football was hugely influential. Of course it needs to be revised because that was a different era but there are some very important principles which are valid regardless of what year or football season it may be.
UEFA.com: Which of your past experiences have helped you as coach?
Mangia: My whole career has helped me. I'm lucky enough to have coached at every level, with every age group. I've worked in Serie A, and there you work with both experienced players and young players. You have to want to improve your players. For me, the role of the coach is not only to win matches but also to improve the players.
UEFA.com: What values do you try to instil in your players?
Mangia: It's important for them to remember they're wearing the Italian national shirt. The Italian national shirt symbolises not only great technical ability but also important moral values. So they must always remember that they're young guys who have the honour of wearing the Italian national shirt.
UEFA.com: In what areas will these players develop on the back of this European experience?
Mangia: Having the chance to compete against big teams from all over Europe really helps their development. Even more so when you can play in an Under-21 Championship which is the pinnacle.
UEFA.com: How good are the current crop of players?
Mangia: For us this is a quality U21 side. In Italy at the moment the young players, or at least in this age group, are doing well, and I believe they deserve to get a good run in their club sides. Not just because they're young but because they deserve to be.