Italy’s defender yelled the instruction moments before the England teenager’s penalty shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Giorgio Chiellini of Italy has acknowledged putting a “curse” on England youngster Bukayo Saka before to the teenager’s crucial penalty miss in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.

Saka’s penalty shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, giving Italy the European Championship after a 120-minute draw between the two sides.

Chiellini shouted “Kiricocho!” just before Saka took the kick — a term players have used for decades to curse the opponent.

Chiellini replied in Italian to an ESPN question: “Hello Christian, I confirm everything!” Kiricocho!”

Juan Carlos ‘Kiricocho’, or Quiricocho in other accounts, was a fervent fan of Argentine team Estudiantes de la Plata in the 1980s.

The fan even attended some of the club’s training sessions, but Estudiantes head coach Carlos Bilardo noticed that his players appeared to get hurt suddenly whenever Kiricocho was around.

According to tradition, Bilardo instructed Kiricocho to attend training sessions of Estudiantes’ adversaries, intending to use his abilities to aid rather than harm his side.

“Kiricocho was a kid from La Plata who was always with us, and since that year we were champions [in 1982], we adopted him as our mascot,” Bilardo once observed.

“He was a decent young man, but I never saw him again. When I was coaching Estudiantes [in 2003-04], I inquired about him and was told that nobody knew anything.”

Kiricocho’s notoriety has now spread across the football globe, with players regularly using the term to insult their opponents.


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