EURO2020.com reporter Paolo Menicucci reflects on a father-son first, keeping Italy's dream alive and a conversation with Hernán Crespo.
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Enrico and Federico Chiesa are the first father and son both to score at a EURO final tournament following Federico's expertly-taken goal in extra time of the Azzurri's round of 16 defeat of Austria at Wembley.
The 23-year-old arrived at the tournament with great expectations after a fine first season with Juventus and was widely tipped as a starter in Roberto Mancini's side. However, Domenico Berardi was preferred for the first two games and not even a Star of the Match showing against Wales on Matchday 3 was enough to earn Chiesa the nod against Austria.Italy's extra-time win against Austria
"It's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy." So goes the song Father and Son by Cat Stevens. However, with Italy lacking the fluency and incision against Austria that had been a hallmark of their group stage campaign, Mancini, who played with Enrico at Sampdoria in 1995/96, turned to Chiesa Jr. on 84 minutes.
He was repaid early in extra time when the forward controlled neatly at the back post, turned inside and smashed into the bottom corner.
“We all want to play, to show our qualities, to go on the pitch and do our best for the national team, and this is our childhood dream,” Chiesa told EURO2020.com after the game. “The coach chooses 11 of us, but as I have already said in past, we are 26 first-class players and tonight we showed it.
“This is why the coach asks the guys on the bench to follow the game closely, to come on, and to make a difference.”
Chiesa did exactly that. Matteo Pessina followed suit, in the process emphasising the depth at Mancini's disposal. His quarter-final team selection promises to be a tricky one to call.
I remember a chat with former Argentina striker Hernán Crespo after an interview almost ten years ago. “Enrico’s son Federico will certainly become a great player,” said Crespo, a former Parma team-mate of Enrico's. “I have been watching him playing in the garden of their house since he was a child. It’s incredible, he has exactly the same moves as his father.” Prophetic words.
Enrico also scored on English soil, at Anfield, back at EURO '96. Italy were up against the Czech Republic and, after Pavel Nedvěd’s early strike, it was Chiesa who levelled the scores that day. Italy were reduced to ten men when Luigi Apolloni was sent off and the Azzurri eventually lost 2-1, a result which ultimately contributed to their group stage exit.
Another line from that Cat Stevens song: “You will still be here tomorrow but your dreams may not." Italy’s dreams at EURO 2020, however, are still alive. More than ever, in fact, with Chiesa in such scintillating form – bring on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal or Romelu Lukaku’s Belgium in the last eight.
“They are two great teams but I hope Cristiano gets through as it would be amazing to face him in the quarter-finals . I played with him this year and he is one of the greatest ever. We’ll see, we are just living the moment.”Download the EURO app