Fabio Borini spoke of his ‘elation’ after scoring the goal that took Italy U-21s to the European Championships final.
The 22-year-old recovered from a serious shoulder injury in time for the tournament in Israel — and on Saturday night against Holland all his work paid off.
The forward executed a clinical finish in the 78th minute after turning his man inside the penalty area, and it proved to be the only goal of the game.
“It was definitely one of my most important goals this season,” Borini said. “I also scored an important one when I returned from injury [against Newcastle in April], but this is more significant because it means we are through to face a great team in the final.
“It is especially important for all the guys who are here. We have come through unnoticed.
“I dedicate this goal to all of my teammates, to the staff, to my family, my friends, to all the Italians who have followed us, because it was a difficult year for me. My agent and my psychologist have also stayed close to me. That’s why I’m so elated — I had so many people to thank.
“Holland are a great team but we showed that we are also strong. We came back from a difficult first 45 minutes and consolidated as a team. We improved after that. We proved tonight that anything can happen, even after suffering for 90 minutes.”
The celebrations that followed Borini’s goal saw him mobbed by teammates and squad members on the touchline.
“I couldn’t think after the goal,” he said. “In truth I knew it would end this way, and I’m happy for myself and my teammates.
“[Devis] Mangia was right to pick me. I made sure I was at his disposal, recovering quickly [from injury with Liverpool] and proving it is possible to make a comeback from difficulty.”
Going into the final with defending champion Spain on Tuesday night, Borini insisted Italy would not be intimidated.
“We have proven that everything is possible,” he said. “Now we will prepare and hope to get off to a good start in that game.”