Italy's Marco Verratti hailed a "truly special group" after the Azzurrini's UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel ended with a 4-2 final defeat by Spain. The Paris Saint-Germain FC midfielder could not fault his team-mates, who he felt "gave everything" but came up just short against a superior Spain side. Fausto Rossi was also keen to stress the unity in the Italy camp, who will bow out with "heads held high".
Marco Verratti, Italy midfielder
We knew it would be a very difficult game. We started knowing that we would give 100% and see what happened. We gave everything but unfortunately some things did not go our way. In the first half [David] de Gea made great saves from [Alessandro] Florenzi and then they scored. We have to congratulate Spain because they played a great game. Most of the Spain players have played in the Spanish Liga and some in the UEFA Champions League. In Italy clubs rely more on experienced players, but we have shown this year that they can count on us, both as players and as people because we are a truly special group.
Everyone tries to help each other and even though we are young, we are great men. Even the semi-final against the Netherlands was a tough game but we won it as a team. Even today we did not give up. We went out there, looked each other in the eye and everyone has given everything. We will have some difficult days ahead because after a beating like this it is not easy to start again. There will be holidays so we will rest and try to get a break.
Fausto Rossi, Italy midfielder
We faced a team with good qualities, a great side, and we tried until the end. We did not succeed but we go out with our heads held high. They have played together for a few years, they have excellent young players. We prepared well and gave a lot in these two years. We went all the way and I think we played well from a technical and tactical point of view – and with an especially big heart. Unfortunately, we were unable to lift the trophy but great credit to Spain. We congratulate them.
Our group has always been strong and united, we have always said that is the most important thing. We love each other, we are 23 players with incredible staff too. We learn from the defeats because they are also important to grow and consolidate as a group. This group has the possibility to break into the senior team too, but for now we have to digest this disappointment. We are aware that, ahead of us, there will definitely be something good.
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