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Chiellini: I wasn't playing mind games with Alba before penalty shootout

21:37 BST 10/07/2021
Giorgio Chiellini Italy Jordi Alba Spain Euro 2020
The Italy defender joked with his Spain counterpart during the coin toss prior to penalties in the semi-final

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini says he was not playing mind games with Jordi Alba when he grabbed the Spain left-back before the penalty shootout in the Euro 2020 semi-final.

The defender laughed, shoved and jokingly punched Alba during the coin toss to decide which side would take the first penalty in the shootout, which the Azzurri won.

It was speculated that the 36-year-old was trying to get a psychological advantage over the Barcelona star, but he insists he was just enjoying himself.

What has been said?

"You can see in these last matches that I have grown as a player but I am also really savouring every last drop of my career," Chiellini said at a press conference ahead of the Euro 2020 final against England.

"I always have a smile on my face but have the utmost respect for my opponents. I will hug them, smile or have a laugh but that’s something that I have always done. I have done that in these games and even more so in this European Championship. I am trying to really enjoy every single moment.

"It wasn’t mind games [with Jordi Alba]. That’s how I am in good and bad times. My team-mates love me and there may be times when opponents like me less, but I feel there’s always mutual respect.

"I feel I have always given and received a lot on that one."

Chiellini hails 'chef' Mancini

The Juventus defender says his side's successful campaign has been down to the mix of characters in the dressing room.

But he praised coach Roberto Mancini for bringing the squad together and turning them into a winning team.

"There are some more introverted and extroverted members of the team," he said.

"There are inexperienced and experienced members, and players who try to take the sting out of things with a word or two.

"Everybody has their own role and we're all very important. That's what brings us together, and we've got a great chef alongside us who is able to mix the ingredients. That's certainly helped us a great deal."

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