Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has transformed Italy since taking charge following the bitter disappointment of their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The Azzurri go into the Euro 2020 final on the back of a record 33-match unbeaten run, having finished top of their group before beating Austria, Belgium and Spain in the round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has sung the praises of his head coach as the Azzurri look for a second European title and their first since 1968. Mancini has only lost two of his 38 games in charge of the national team so far.
“First of all he worked on our mentality, he gave us confidence back, restored our self-esteem and enthusiasm,” said Bonucci.
“He made us believe what he wanted was the best way and the right way. He selected talent and quality, which is what makes you win in football.
“Playing with a lot of talent in the middle of the pitch makes everything easy, and that is what we have been doing for the past three years.”
Meanwhile, England defender John Stones admits Sunday’s meeting with Italy seemed like a distant dream not so long ago. The Three Lions are set to play in the European Championship final for the first time, while this is their first major tournament final since 1966.
“It’s huge, with it being at Wembley as well it’s even more special – something we could have only dreamt of at the start of the tournament,” said Stones.
“We’ve got this far now and we’ve grown throughout the tournament and not put too much pressure on ourselves. We’ve overcome some tough tests over the last few years.
“We’ve learned a lot of things and gained a lot of experience and that’s got us to where we are on Sunday. It’s a massive occasion.”