by Gabriele Bonafede
A fantastic dive performed by a great Raheem Sterling helped England to accede the final game of Euro 2020 against Italy. The English golden-boy forward learned from the most famous Italian technical gesture. That is, a colourful dive in reparation surface to lure the referee into conceding a penalty.
It is not an easy performance. You must have quickness of mind, perfect execution and a great deal of acting skills. Not all non-Italian players have those skills, especially in England. Sterling performed the Italian dive with astonishing capability, in the right place at the right moment – and with the right referee.
We Italians are pretty famous for this. So famous, that my coach of an unknown French amateur team – long ago – used to advise me to utilise that Italian specialty move in official games. The problem was, I was quite an amateur player and could not perform such Italian dives well.
I preferred another Italian specialty – scoring goals without much thinking about fancy gestures or beautiful effects. A goal is a goal. It helps your team to win. That is the most important outcome while playing football, whether in a professional or amateur context. It is the most important duty for a forward player: make the ball cross the goal line in one way or the another.
In England vs Denmark, Sterling scored two such goals. The first he scored by luring Simon Kjær into a spectacular own-goal and the other by luring the referee to concede a spectacular penalty. Most probably, England would have won even without that penalty as it has been showing superority well beyond a well-performed dive.
England, Italy and the Italian dive
England deserves the final because this team is capable to add an Italian style of football to pretty English style – and not only for what concerns a fancy and fabulously executed dive. Actually, the Euro 2020 England team is capable of performing many other non-English techniques. The Three-Lions team has been completely transformed by one of the best coaches ever: Gareth Southgate.
In addition to all required technicalities and tactics of contemporary football, he has taught his fantastic and well-selected team the art of Spanish tiki-taka as well as the – quite Italian – time-wasting process, rock-wall defence setup and referee-deception gestures.
Sterling’s Italian dive in England vs Denmark semi-final has been a master-piece, the cherry on top of a cake, as we Italians use for “icing on the cake”. Yet, the essential ingredient for a perfect and successful Italian dive is the referee himself. Who will be the referee for the Euro 2020 (2021) final?
The frontrunner seems to be the Turkish referee Cüneyt Çakır. He is one of the most capable in elevating dives into penalties – and much more. Sure, there will be the VAR team too. Well, either.
So far, England has been anyway the strongest team of this competition and likely to win the title in Wembley Sunday night. But, watch-out! Italians too are quite good players, and are not the last ones in performing Italian dives…
Finally, let’s have a look at Sterling’s Italian dive performed in England vs Denmark. This is art, not football