England v Italy Euro 2020 Final: “Passion, tactics and a lot of swearing – I know Roberto Mancini will be ready for England” – Micah Richards

If he faced anyone other than England, I would be desperate for Italian manager Roberto Mancini to win the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

I loved Mancini when he was my boss at Manchester City, and he loved me too. It’s fair to say that not all of the other City players felt the same as he was super intense and didn’t take any prisoners if you did something he didn’t like.

He’s so charismatic and passionate, and he wouldn’t change his ways for anyone. His motto was “we’re all in the same boat” and he gave you a simple choice: you did things his way or you were away.

Looking at Italy over the past few weeks, it’s clear their players have completely bought into his ideas and approach.

I am delighted that he has shown again how great a manager he is, although I never doubted it. I won’t send him a “good luck” message on Sunday like I usually would before a big game.

A different challenge for Southgate

Win or lose, Mancini is a very emotional person and in City some people find it difficult to put up with him on a daily basis.

In other words, he didn’t deliberately teach me how to swear in Italian, but he did it so often in training and during games that you learned those words pretty quickly, trust me.

That’s why I thought international football would suit his personality better, as there is usually a bit more breathing space between games. I felt like he was a bit more relaxed at the start of this tournament because nobody really expected much from Italy before.

It will now be taken out the window. He will be totally pumped up for Sunday and ready for battle in every way.

I was hugely impressed with England boss Gareth Southgate and his tactical decisions in every game that helped us reach the final, but facing Mancini is a whole different challenge.

We saw a classic performance from Mancini in Italy in their semi-final win over Spain, where he tried different things during the game and kept reacting to what was happening all the time.

They played much more offensively earlier in the tournament against smaller teams but, against Spain, he tried everything to strike the right balance to win the game. It reminded me of how he was in City.

At first he pressed high, but when Spain attacked strongly he retreated into a defensive position and looked to hit them on the counter. When Federico Chiesa scored after a short break I was like “wow, this is the Mancini I know”, with all the different ideas that came out in 90 minutes.

Tactically he will make it very difficult for England as well and I know what his state of mind will be like. Mancini’s attitude is always “never give up” – watching their 33-game unbeaten streak is proof of that.

He has instilled that spirit into this Italy side the same way he did with us at City, so Southgate and the English players are going to have to be prepared for anything. It’s going to be a hell of a fight.

“One of the best summers of my life”

I always thought England had the players to win Euro 2020, and Southgate did it all brilliantly. I have friends in the England squad so seeing them do so well has been amazing.

They have already made the country proud. If they can go further and win, it will be a dreamland for everyone.

The last 18 months have been horrible so I’m really happy that everyone has been able to enjoy football in the last few weeks, especially because we are doing so well.

England’s success obviously helped, but the rest of the tournament was also fantastic. It’s the first big final I’ve worked on as an expert, and it’s been one of the best summers of my life.

Of course I missed Roy Keane a bit, and I know the feeling is mutual – he’ll never admit it though.

We usually work as a duo during the normal season, but I guess he’s my rival now while he’s with ITV, so I haven’t seen him for a few weeks – we’ve finally been apart!

Rio Ferdinand stepped in to fill that hole a bit, because he hurt me on social media about my fashion sense – not that he had any room to talk about it.

I posted the ‘bootcut United!’ photo comes back to him and, since, he does not stop moving forward … and moving forward! I’m ready for his next one, so he better watch out.

The people I have worked with have been a lot of fun and I just hope the people who watch and listen to me on TV and radio can relate to me, especially when I am talking about England.

I just feel like I’m a fan there, and I appreciate him as much as everyone else.

I was at Wembley for BBC Radio 5 Live for our victories against Germany and Denmark, and I have never experienced an atmosphere like any game I have played or watched. When I spoke on the radio it was so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think.

There are also other things that I will never forget about this tournament, for different reasons.

The first game I worked on was the night Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest while playing for the Danes against Finland.

I was in the BBC studio with Gary Lineker and Alex Scott and we were just in shock. Football loses its relevance at times like this – we didn’t know what was going on and like I said at the time, all we could do was hope.

Fortunately, the stadium’s medical team did an incredible job saving him and Christian recovered.

It was my moment of the tournament right there, hearing he had regained consciousness. Nothing else mattered more than that.

Micah Richards was talking to Chris Bevan of BBC Sport.

New around the BBC - iPlayerNew Footer Around the BBC - iPlayer

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *