We Are The Champions (part 2)
CONTINUED from 13 July 2006
We had spent the day wandering around the streets of Roma, as best as my leg would allow. Four weeks after falling down the stairs, it still hurts a lot and I have to limp everywhere. The idea was to take pictures of ourselves in Italian kit with the flag at the main touristy places but it didn't quite work out that way. Anyway, we walked from Teatro di Marcello through the Jewish quarter to Campo dei Fiori to Piazza Navona to The Pantheon, lunch near Largo Argentina and then back to Campidoglio.
The only people wearing Italy kit seemed to be foreigners, Italians probably being to stylish, despite what the BBC says, to wear clothes as yobby as football shirts.
Anyway, finally towards the end of the afternoon, it started to get noisier and people started converging on the Coloseeum and the Circo Massimo is preparation for the Final. Having been hot and humid all day, the skies were darkening and it threatened rain, of which we received only a few spots.
As it was getting late and we didn't want to be late getting stuck in traffic, we did not have too much time to take photos of the colourful crowds gathering in Circo Massimi, the battery of the camera was failing and the memory stick was getting full, while the light was fading.... not a very good combination, unfortunately.
The pub where we were to meet the friends of Angelo was near Piazza Risorgimento, near San Pietro and we got there early, so early that the place was, in fact, empty. Gradually people appeared, looking anxious in anticipation of another important football final for gli Azzurri.
The pub was divided into three rooms, and we had a table reserved in one, by the bar, with a tiny screen somewhere near the ceiling... but it was good enough. The atmosphere by the tim ethe national anthems were being played was elecrtic and now it was time to sit back and enjoy the feast ahead, with a large glass of beer.
Both teams started well and all of a sudden someone fell in teh Italian penalty box and after a moment or two of confusion...because what the TV showed did not look like a foul, it was a penalty for France. Zidane takes it and we are not sure if it went in. It bounces out and we are happy that he seemed to have missed.... but then it turns out that the ball had gone in and France are 1-0 up. I say it is good that this happens at the start of the match as it'll give Italy plenty of time to come back and win.
We do not have to wait long because Materazzi manages to head in a Pirlo corner and everyone is ecstatic! Back level now, it is anyone's game and certainly within Italy's grasp. Italy go on to dominate the rest of the first half, but there are no more goals. They were not passing the ball around with as much accuracy as they had against Germany and they were not being given much time by the hustl French and Totti was not really in the game. Great defence always and some strong work in midfield from Gattuso and Pirlo.
Half-time and the bar empties. There is a strict no smoking policy in Italy, so all the smokers leave for their fag outside. The next half is tricky, as Italy seem to have run out of energy quicker than the ageing French, such that France gets the majority of ball possession, without really getting past the Italian defence. However, every one is confident that Italy WILL win. Unlike the England v Portugal match when I never really believed England would win, despite Portugal being so poor, I felt very confident that this was Ital's year and that they would pull it off.
Totti comes off and Daniele De Rossi comes on, after his four match suspension... which is good for the lad's confidence. Del Piero comes on and also Iaquinta.
Extra time and still stale-mate, with two tired teams but there is more space for Italy. Then comes in Zidane incident. A nasty headbutt, a long time waiting for the referee to make his decision and he is off, shown the red card. A cheer goes up as he is shown the card, more because that is what he deserved after such an attack.
The game carries on with no more goals and we are into penalties and still everyone is confident. However, Buffon, despite being the best goalkeeper in the world, but the French one is a buffoon and I am sure Italy will do it.
However, it is not the goalies who fail, but just one Frenchman.... who, when he came on, I said he was no good... the poor poor David Trezeguet. The cheers went up every time an Italian scored, silent when a French player scored.
Pirlo (rock solid king of teh midfield)
Materazzi (so soon after that incident - what composure)
De Rossi (a young man, back after a four game suspension - so cool)
Del Piero (an older man, with fresh legs - what a hero)
and last but not least ... GROSSO... the man who had put Italy into the final with his late goal against Germany!
Here I was in Italy and Italy have just won the World Cup, from all those other countries.... and with 30 teams having gone home tearfully from the finals in Germany
Champions of the World
Freddie Mercury singing in the background.
And the all-night party starts on the streets of Rome...