Italy coach Marcello Lippi spoke of the "unlimited heart" of his side after last night's penalty shoot-out victory against France earned them the FIFA World Cup.
The Azzurri held their nerve from the spot at the Olympiastadion in Berlin after the teams ended 120 minutes of action tied at 1-1. Italy won 5-3 on penalties with David Trezeguet missing for Les Bleus and Fabio Grosso converting the decisive attempt. "I have to say thanks to the players," said Lippi. "This is the most satisfying moment of my life. We are very happy. I dedicate the victory to my family. The players have unlimited heart, character and personality.
"I've won the [UEFA] Champions League and lots of Serie A titles but I've never felt anything like this, it is a completely different feeling. In the second half we faded physically but there was always a chance that it could be won from a set-piece, or from one moment, and there were great players out there capable of doing that. Then we took the penalties very well, there was great lucidity in the penalties as they aren't easy."
With glittering fireworks exploding around the arena, Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro lifted the golden trophy to bring the curtain down on the World Cup for another four years, after 64 matches around Germany. Sunday's game gave Italy their fourth world title and deprived France of a second, eight years after their triumph on home soil. It was also notable for the dismissal of France's talismanic playmaker Zinédine Zidane in his last appearance after the 34-year-old was sent off in extra time for a butt into the chest of Azzurri defender Marco Materazzi.
"I've said it from the start - only victory is pretty," said losing coach Raymond Domenech. "You can say what we did wasn't bad but it's Italy who are champions." Zidane gave France an early lead with a penalty on seven minutes but Materazzi equalised with a header 12 minutes later. The final word should go to Grosso, who has been a revelation at these finals. "I took the last penalty because we wanted to get those who could score more easily up first," he said. "You're never sure about taking a penalty but we really wanted it. It's to the credit of a great team that we got our hands on the World Cup.
It's going to be a long party."
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