THERE were celebrations in Kinawley as Italy were crowned European Champions on Sunday night, and it had nothing to do with not wanting England to win.
It was all in support of honorary Fermanagh man Luca Saulle, who has made Kinawley his home and where he has a strong extended family connection.
The Naples native is married to local girl Claire (nee Melanophy), and while the couple enjoyed Sunday evening’s match while on holiday in Cork, the clan were cheering them on back here in the county.
Speaking to the Herald on Monday, Luca said not only was he likely one of the happiest men in Ireland, but also one of the most exhausted.
“It was a draining experience. The whole tournament has been a journey,” he said.
As anyone who watched the match will know, things didn’t go quite to plan for the Italians from the start, with England scoring in the second minute of the match. Luca said at that point he “started to pray to all my collection of saints and praying to them one by one.”
When Italy equalised, he said he was made feel less homesick by the fact most in the Cork hotel were backing his side.
“When we scored I realised all of the room was actually supporting Italy, and I felt a little bit better, that I was not on my own. When you see other people supporting you, you feel more included and like a home away from home,” he said.
Luca may have been tired, but he was still buzzing when he spoke to the Herald, clearly happy to share an excitement so few football fans ever get to enjoy. He said the team’s win had given Italy “a bit of joy and it’s picked up the country, because we haven’t had an easy time with the Covid.”
Luca added the win would also provide a welcome boost to his local area, with three local lads on the pitch on Sunday night – stars Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, and player of the tournament and hero of the night, Gianluigi Donnarumma. In fact, Luca said the goalkeeper lived near his aunt.
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