Giorgio Chiellini has extraordinarily confessed to cursing Bukayo Saka before the England starlet missed the decisive penalty that saw Italy win Euro 2020.
Saka was left heartbroken after seeing his spot-kick palmed out by Gianluigi Donnarumma, with the Three Lions’ stellar campaign brought to an end in the cruellest of fashions at Wembley.
But Italy defender Chiellini, who is no stranger to using every trick in the book during games, has now revealed a couple of days later that he uttered the word ‘Kiricocho’ when Saka stepped up from 12 yards.
Giorgio Chiellini confessed to cursing Bukayo Saka before the England man’s missed penalty
Saka (centre) is seen being consoled by team-mates after Italy clinched the Euro 2020 trophy
Slow motion footage captured of the Azzurri’s players during the moment Donnarumma clinched them the trophy shows Chiellini mouthing it, before the 36-year-old then races away to celebrate.
‘Kiricocho’ is a term that originates from South America, and is believed to translate into English as ‘curse you’ or ‘jinx’.
It has truly bizarre origins, with the word taking its name from a supporter of Estudiantes in Argentina. The fan would make his presence felt during training, but his appearances would coincide with stars picking up injuries.
Chiellini (right) was caught on camera mouthing the South American curse word ‘Kiricocho’
Gareth Southgate shared a touching moment with Saka after the decisive penalty was saved
Carlos Bilardo, the manager of the club, then tasked Kiricocho to attend matches to put a ‘hex’ on their opponents.
In another strange twist, the team lost just once that season – on the only occasion that the supporter didn’t attend.
Chiellini was quizzed on whether or not he used the curse by ESPN Argentina, and the veteran promptly owned up with a wry smile on his face.
‘Ciao, Cristiano,’ he told a reporter. ‘I confirm everything to you. Kiricocho!’
The wily Chiellini is no stranger to using all the tricks in the book to help his teams win games
Saka proved difficult to handle for Chiellini after being brought on during the second half, and even forced the centre back to crudely tug back his shirt to stop him from racing away towards the box.
Sportsmail has reported how England’s players were left shocked by Gareth Southgate’s decision to hand Saka, 19, the responsibility of taking the crucial fifth penalty in the tense shootout.
Despite initially being viewed as a ‘borderline’ candidate to make the final squad for the tournament, Saka was handed the burden because of his superb conversion rate at the end of training sessions.
His team-mates rallied around to console him after the chastening miss, but they were also surprised that a teenager was placed in the position to decide the outcome of England’s biggest match in 55 years.
Saka fired his penalty to Gianluigi Donnarumma’s left, but the giant Italy keeper parried it away
A host of Three Lions players were quick to race to Saka and comfort him after the costly miss
Saka’s only experience with penalties came in youth-level ties, but Southgate’s choice was made using the results of practice efforts, which were all logged.
The emotions couldn’t have been more contrasting after the final whistle, with Chiellini lauding Italy for ‘making history’ with their triumph.
‘It was a tough game. We started in the worst way possible with England scoring after two minutes,’ the Juventus man admitted.
‘Difficult for us with all the fans in the stadium giving them energy to win. But we were quiet and calm, which was important.
Chiellini (seen holding the trophy) admitted winning the tournament was a ‘dream come true’
‘Then we started to play, play, play. We found the right pass, we found the right shot. This is the way to win.’
He went on to add: ‘It’s a dream come true. It’s unbelievable. We felt some magic at the start of the competition and it’s grown day by day.
‘We feel inside to come in Wembley, it’s too difficult but I’m so happy, more than happy. We’ve seen the image of (Fabio) Cannavaro and now we are lucky altogether.’