Euro 2020 final: what it’s like to be an Italy fan in London - ‘I won’t be watching with England fans’

NationalWorld speaks to Matteo Girardi, who has lived in London for eight years and had been supporting his adopted nation until now

Football’s apparently coming home, but where is home for you?

For Matteo Girardi, an Italian father-of-two living in South London, Wednesday night’s win against Denmark has resulted in him choosing between his home nation and the place he has called home for the past eight years.

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He grew up in Bologna, Northern Italy, and spent time in Milan and then Switzerland, before settling in London.

So, who will he be supporting on Sunday night?

“We have been supporting England up until now, of course. They hadn’t faced Italy so it was fine, but we will definitely support Italy now.

“My colleagues are mostly English so they have supported England obviously, but any of those who have moved to England from abroad will support Italy and have supported their own home nations.”

Italy have enjoyed an outstanding track record on the run up to the game - only conceding two goals in 23 games prior to their nail-biting penalty shoot out win against Spain on Tuesday night.

Its coming to Rome, Italy fans teased England as they congregated at Wembley for the semi-finals Spain v Italy match. Around 1,000 Italians are expected to be at Wembley Stadium for the final (Picture: Getty Images)

What has Matteo made of his home nation’s performance?

‘A bad match with a good result’

“I’m lucky to have watched the 2006 World Cup, when our team was probably the strongest and playing at their best.

“I think Italy are playing well and have had some great games lately, but I wouldn’t say they’ve had a star player who is going to be a game changer.”

Matteo thinks Federico Chesia, who scored against Spain in the semi-finals, is one to look out for.

“The game against Spain was a bad match with a good result, let's hope it's smoother against England.”

‘Sterling is great’

And his thoughts on Gareth Southgate’s squad?

“I’m worried, they seem faster and taller,” he laughs nervously. “Why are all Italy’s players so small? We have no [Harry] Kane and no [Harry] Maguire.”

“[Raheem] Sterling is great, and we don’t have anyone to defend against Kane and Maguire so together, they could be troubling, painfully dangerous for Italy,” he adds.

England won their semi-final against Denmark after stunning performances by Sterling and Luke Shaw, who have held their own on the European stage since the beginning of the tournament.

But it was Kane who scored the winning goal in extra time,missing his penalty but returning in a split second to drive the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

Meanwhile, Italy’s win against Spain was more agonising. They won 4-2 on penalties, following a 120-minute epic.

Score predictions

Matteo reckons the final score on Sunday won’t be quite the thrashing that some English pundits have predicted for Italy.

“Two-one to Italy,” he says. “I won’t be watching the game with England fans because I do expect Italy to pull through.”

“Lorenzo Insigne and Chiesa will score for us, and Kane for England as we have no one to defend him, he’s very tall.”

Pizza or pasta?

How will Matteo be watching the game?

“We are having our Italian friends round, we’d have loved to have gone to Wembley at any price, but we are a bit nervous about Covid,” he says.

For Matteo, the food is a big part of the celebration. So, pizza or pasta?

“We made some lovely homemade meat lasagne for the semi-finals and it will be much the same, fresh pasta and maybe also some pizza too.

“I’d usually have a barbecue in the hot weather, which is pretty British, but on Sunday we are sticking to tradition.”

You can watch the Euro 2020 finals on ITV or STV on Sunday, 11 July. Kick-off is at 8pm, coverage begins at 6.30pm, with commentary by Sam Matterface and Lee Dixon.