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Gianluigi Donnarumma on Italy vs Spain and his side's EURO 2020 triumph

"We've improved and they'll be scared of us," said Italy's goalkeeper as he prepares for a semi-final rematch with Spain.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is ready for a rematch with Spain
Gianluigi Donnarumma is ready for a rematch with Spain Getty Images

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was the face of Italy’s UEFA EURO 2020 success, making the shoot-out saves that eliminated Spain and defeated England to give Roberto Mancini’s side the trophy.

Named as Player of the Tournament, the 22-year-old left AC Milan for Paris in the summer, but will return to San Siro for the UEFA Nations League finals as Italy bid to add another title to the current squad’s haul.

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EURO 2020 highlights: Italy 1-1 Spain (4-2 pens)
EURO 2020 highlights: Italy 1-1 Spain (4-2 pens)

On facing Spain in the semi-finals

We know that Spain have a great team. We struggled a bit in that [semi-final at EURO 2020] so we’ll prepare in order to do better. But Italy also deserve credit. We've improved and they'll be scared of us. I’m sure that we’ll try to play well as we do in every game, and I hope we get the result we want.

[Spain] were very aggressive [at EURO], they took us on in one-on-one situations, so we have to improve in that regard. But we’re a good team. The coach [Mancini] knows what he is doing, how to set us up best on the pitch; we trust him. We hope to get to the World Cup through this as well. The San Siro is one of the most important stadiums in the world and playing there is always exciting. It’ll be a special match.

On working alongside Gianluigi Buffon with Italy

Donnarumma and his Italy mentor  Gianluigi Buffon
Donnarumma and his Italy mentor Gianluigi BuffonGetty Images

'Gigi' was amazing. We talk often, we have a special relationship. He’s the best in the world, one of the best goalkeepers of all time, so I’m very proud of having worked alongside him for Italy, of having trained with him. I learned a lot from him, every training session helped me to improve, and all I can do is thank him for everything he did for me.

I always watched him and definitely learned a lot from him – the calmness he had in goal. I’m really grateful to him. To play to the standard he did, you needed to have a lot of qualities, some of which you can’t just learn. So having my qualities and learning things helped me improve a lot.

On Italy’s current 37-game unbeaten run

We think about it, and we all hope this will go on as long as possible so that we set an even longer record, because we can do it. We’re a great team and we’re sure we’re capable of extending this record and carrying on doing well. I’m very proud to have achieved this great thing with the whole team, but now we’ve got something else to aim for which is very important, and we need to stay humble, taking things game by game, going from where we left off.

Player of the Tournament: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Player of the Tournament: Gianluigi Donnarumma

On winning big at EURO 2020

It was incredible, a really incredible journey. After missing out on the [2018] World Cup we started basically from scratch. We have to thank [Roberto Mancini] who believed in this team from the start; he made us all feel important. Not many people believed in us, so we’ve been good at putting together a real team, working together. Those 50 days of training [at the finals] felt shorter because we were having fun. We could’ve easily stayed there longer.

[After saving the penalty that won the final for Italy] I looked at the referee because nowadays they have to check with VAR to see if everything is OK, and I saw him going away and everyone running around, and I thought: "We’ve done something incredible." You can’t explain the emotions. We made Italians happy, we brought them a lot of joy. We know that this period hasn’t been easy, all of us have struggled, so we were happy that we made them all proud.