Giorgio Chiellini vs Bukayo Saka: Retired Italy Defender Opens Up on Infamous Euro 2020 Challenge

Giorgio Chiellini vs Bukayo Saka: Retired Italy Defender Opens Up on Infamous Euro 2020 Challenge

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
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  • Giorgio Chiellini has admitted that his pull on Bukayo Saka wasn't beautiful but necessary
  • The two met during the Euro 2022 final when Italy faced England at Wembley Stadium
  • Roberto Mancini's side won the title after beating the Three Lions on post-match penalties

Giorgio Chiellini has shed light on what was going through his mind when he made the infamous pull on Bukayo Saka during the Euro 2020 final.

Chiellini lined up for Italy alongside his long-term defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci as they faced England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021.

Giorgio Chielliini, Bukayo Saka, Euro championships
Giorgio Chiellini pulls Bukayo Saka during Euro 2020 final. Photo by Laurence Griffiths.
Source: Getty Images

Luke Shaw gave Gareth Southgate's charges the lead inside the first two minutes, but Bonucci restored parity in the second half, forcing the game to extra time and subsequent penalties.

But perhaps the Three Lions would have won it in normal time had Chiellini not used his vast experience to halt an England attack. Deep into stoppage time, Saka managed to get past the veteran defender and was on course for a promising attack.

"I made a mistake reading the bounce of the ball. Saka was too smart and passed through me. I didn't really realise how," said the former Juventus man, as quoted by Italian Football News.

Chiellini drew from his experience

When Saka thought he was on course for a promising attack that could win his side the Euros, Chiellini had other ideas, which he admits wasn't beautiful.

"The first thing I have to do is pull him. Something that, for me, is normal. A yellow card is better than conceding a transition. It was not beautiful to watch for sure, but it's something I learned in my career: that you have to be effective and not beautiful."

Now, with Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer, the defender finishes off by aiming a dig at his face.

"I never was beautiful with the ball, without the ball, and also off the pitch (points to face)"

The Azzurri went on to win the Championship courtesy of penalty-saving heroics from Gianluigi Donnaruma as relived by the Athletic. Chiellini later retired from international duty in 2022, bringing an end to an international career that started in 2004.

Bukayo Saka's durability secrets

Sports Brief reported on Bukayo Saka's secret to keeping fit, with four key factors named - his professionalism, genetic advantage and education, while the other is Nigerian diets.

The England international's parents are Nigerians, and his mother's homemade delicacy of jollof rice and plantain, which is his favourites, was also named as part of his secrets.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)