EURO 2020

Giorgio Chiellini Denies 'Mind Games' With Jordi Alba Before Penalty Shootout

Giorgio Chiellini was seen joking with Jordi Alba prior to the penalty shootout
Giorgio Chiellini was seen joking with Jordi Alba prior to the penalty shootout / Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images

Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini has insisted he wasn't playing mind games with Jordi Alba before the penalty shootout in their Euro 2020 semi-final against Spain.

Chiellini was seen laughing and jokingly punching Alba during the coin toss which Roberto Mancini's side won. Fans speculated that the 36-year-old was trying to get a psychological advantage over the Barcelona star, but the Juventus captain insisted he was just having fun.

"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.

"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."

The veteran defender went on to praise 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 added. 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."