Euro 2020: Italians in London celebrate into the night after victory over England
The sound of Sweet Caroline rang out with a distinct Italian twang in one corner of central London last night.
Italians from across the capital gathered in one of London’s oldest Italian restaurants, Little Italy, to watch the battle of their two nations play out on the pitch.
With the double doors and thick black curtain to the outside pulled shut, fans draped themselves in red white and green flags and belted out Il Canto degli Italiani, their national anthem, over pizzas and red wine.
Chants of “It’s coming home” competed with “It’s coming Rome” across four stories of the Soho venue by the time of kick off.
“I’m still going to open a bottle of Prosecco whatever the result,” Giorgio Koidomani, who watched with his Italian best friend and their two English born sons, told.
“It’s been brilliant as an Italian in London, because if we win, we are very very happy, and if we lose, we will not be that devastated, because we have been living here a long time.”
Cosian, his son, said: “I’ve been nervous, we’ve all been talking about it at school. I want Italy to win, but England is my second favourite country to win, so I’d be happy with that.”
Pablo Behrans, a businessman who moved to the UK, said it was the emotion of it all that made it for him, not the result.
“I’ve been taking pictures out in central London, it’s been an amazing atmosphere. People out with their flags, both sides, everyone having fun. Football is an amazing sport – nothing brings people together like it,” he said.
“I would be happy if England win, if they win fairly.”
For some they backed Italy because they weren’t England.
Dara, a 19-year-old Irishman, who declined to give his surname, said: “Italians are the most likeable team in the Euros, they’ve got the best players in the world now. They’re the team who deserve to win no matter what,” he said, adding: “and they’re not English!”
As half-time drew in, the streets of this corner of Soho filled with chants of “Italia!” even though the team were 1-0 down.
The place soon erupted in cheers when the Italian side finally landed a goal. Staff put down the pizzas and Peronis and jumped in the aisles of the restaurant, waving mini Italian flags as they pulled closer to victory.
That celebration was nothing compared with the ultimate victory. The sound of the winning penalty hitting the net could hardly be heard for the screams and whistles of delighted Italians. Fans spilled out into the streets of Soho waving red white and green – and a few EU flags – in delight at the victory.
Italian men ripped their tops off and climbed on to one another shoulders. As the night continued, Prosecco erupted from the second floor window of neighbouring Bar Italia, drenching those celebrating below, as they sang into the night