Published November 20, 2014
Italy's players might have felt exhausted after beating Ireland on Monday but that was nothing compared to the staff, who walked 21 km to a monastery in the middle of the night to celebrate their Euro 2012 quarter-final berth.
The Camaldolese monks, whose origins are in Italy but who run a monastery 21 km from Italy's base outside Krakow, met the squad before the tournament and the team staff promised to make a pilgrimage to the monastery if they got out of Group C.
No one expected coach Cesare Prandelli, his backroom team and federation vice president and former midfielder Demetrio Albertini to take the walk at 3 a.m. local time, shortly after arriving back in Krakow from beating the Irish 2-0 in Poznan.
The federation said in a statement that the group, who first "had to deal with the jokes of the players... who went off to bed", took 3-1/2 hours to complete the walk and returned to the team base at 7 a.m. - by car.
Italy meet England in the last quarter-final in Kiev on Sunday when Azzurri fans hope Prandelli will not have another sleepless night - this time for the wrong reasons.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)