Italy defender Leonardo Spinazzola has penned an open letter to his teammates ahead of the Euro 2020 final against England, urging the Azzurri to win the trophy in his absence.
The AS Roma star was thriving in the tournament, and was many viewers’ pick for the Player of the Tournament. But he cruelly suffered an achilles tendon injury in the 2-1 victory over Belgium, bringing his European adventure to a premature halt.
He was then forced to travel to Finland, where he underwent surgery on his injury, and will now begin a long and difficult road to recovery.
Spinazzola has travelled with the team to Wembley for the final, but he also wrote an open letter to his colleagues, which was printed in La Stampa, encouraging them to fulfil their destiny without him in the side.
“If I went back in time, I would sprint for the ball again. I would do it 100 times again, trying to earn a metre on the opponent and shift the game on our side. It’s nothing special, these are the Azzurri’s rules,” Spinazzola wrote.
“After all, you only cross the line if you are ready to give your soul to your teammates. The injury took me off the field but could not separate me from the group. My son Mattia, who is only three years old, understood that his dad could not remain on the couch at home to watch the game tonight.
“I am thrilled, I can’t hide it. When I got into the airplane, I felt I was reborn a little. In a few hours, I will be on the pitch with my teammates and in the stands with the rest of the country. It could have been better, but it could have been worse.
“We have the last battle of this Euros at Wembley. A tournament that I will carry inside forever. From the magic nights of the Stadio Olimpico to the temple of football against the hosts, we’ve come a long way.
“In my case, fate has added a few more kilometres to this journey: a stage of suffering in Finland, to adjust the Achilles Tendon.
“Now, I am ready. I feel I have still so much to give. I will return on the wings in a few months, but I like to think this evening we’ll be sprinting all together.
“I toy with the idea of seeing Bryan Cristante, the first teammate who consoled me after the injury, lifts something more meaningful than my head. Here we are. Forza Azzurri!”
Spinazzola will be hoping his words inspire his teammates to victory on Sunday evening, where they’ll have to defeat England at Wembley to lift their first major silverware since 2006.