Daniele De Rossi has spoken of his delight at Italy earning a positive result in their first match of Euro 2012 over reigning champions Spain, following a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
The Azzurri went one up after Antonio Di Natale came off the bench on the hour mark to break the deadlock in Gdansk, but Cesc Fabregas managed to claim a point for La Roja just minutes later.
De Rossi, a midfielder by trade, started the match as part of a three-man defence for Italy and received glowing reviews for his performance, and he embodied the feel-good factor sweeping his side's dressing room.
"The draw against Spain gives us great confidence, because it was the hardest game in our group. Being in front of such an opponent was amazing," he said after the game.
"There's been some noise around us that did not help us and after the defeat against Russia, it was normal to think of a catastrophe but it was not so, we ended up having a good game.
"I was hoping to make the step up at this level and I must thank my fellow defenders, they were great."
De Rossi then had his say on the performances of controversial striker Mario Balotelli and surprise starter at left wing-back Emanuele Giaccherini and also Spain's decision to utilise a 'false nine' in attack.
"He was very good at recovering the ball, then maybe he thought that the defender was not behind him, he was a little sleepy, but maybe he was tired, he ran a lot."
"Apart from his talent and his dedication, [Giaccherini's] approach was impressive, as it was not easy to debut for Italy in such a game.
"The absence of Torres? We knew that they could play like that, without a pure striker, as they do so often in Barcelona."