Marco Verratti says Roberto Mancini has brought “enthusiasm” back to the Italy squad and urged the team to continue a “beautiful journey”.
The Azzurri hit rock bottom in 2017 when a play-off defeat to Sweden saw them miss out on a World Cup for the first time since 1956. Mancini consequently took the reins and a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in his first game in charge was followed by just a single victory in the following seven games.
But since then Italy have triumphed in 13 out of 14 matches, including winning all of their qualifiers for the postponed Euro 2020.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Verratti says former Manchester City boss Mancini has breathed new life into Italy.
“After the match against Sweden, thanks to the coach, enthusiasm has returned,” he said ahead of Italy’s Nations League clash with Poland on Sunday. “It was a hard blow that we took together and the coach was able to get us back on the road. He was good at rebuilding and making us play well. We are close to France. Sure, they won a World Cup, but in the last two years, we’ve become credible again.
“So far we have made a beautiful journey. We must continue on this path, with humility and courage.”
Verratti has been joined at PSG by two of his international team-mates in the form of Alessandro Florenzi and Moise Kean, who joined from Roma and Everton respectively. The midfielder is delighted to have both playing alongside him domestically.
“I am happy that Florenzi and Kean have arrived at PSG. I am very close to Alessandro and I am happy to play with him,” he added. “Moise needs a further step to become even stronger.”