In a sensational statement, Italian captain Giorgio Chiellini on Wednesday claimed that he had ‘cursed’ England’s 19-year-old Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka when he was taking the fifth penalty for England during the UEFA European Championship 2020 final. Interestingly, Saka’s decisive spot-kick was saved by Italy’s Paris Saint Germain (PSG) goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, handing the Azzurri European glory. On Sunday, Italy defeated England in penalties (3-2) after the scoreboard read 1-1 at full time.
In a video shared by UEFA on their official Twitter handle, Chiellini could be seen screaming “Kiricocho", just before Saka took his spot-kick. “Kiricocho” is a word that is often used by footballers to put bad luck on their opponents.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 12, 2021
Recently in an interview with ESPN, when Chiellini was asked about the same, Italy’s Juventus defender proudly said that he ‘cursed’ Saka.
¡CONFIRMADO: DIJO’KIRICOCHO’! Chiellini le aseguró a @askomartin que utilizó la famosa maldición identificada con Estudiantes para que Inglaterra erre el último penal. pic.twitter.com/XxR9r8lV95— ESPN Argentina (@ESPNArgentina) July 12, 2021
“Hello Christian, I confirm everything! Kiricocho,” Chiellini said in Italian.
According to the football legends, in the 1980s, there was a kid named Juan Carlos ‘Kiricocho’who was a diehard fan of Argentinian club Estudiantes de la Plata. Kiricocho used to watch every game of Estudiantes. He even used to attend their training session.
However, soon, Estudiantes’ then head coach Carlos Bilardo started noticing that whenever Kiricochowas present in the stadium, his players used to get mysteriously injured. After that, he decided to use this hard-core for his benefit by asking Kiricocho to visit his opponent’s training sessions.
“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 had once said as quoted by Goal.
Bilardo even went on to say that after the said season, ‘Kiricocho’ disappeared and nobody saw him again. Bilardo even said that he inquired about the kid when he was coach with Estudiantes last time in 2003-04 but “nobody knew anything."
And, ever since then, the legend of ‘Kiricocho’ has spread in the football circuit. Chiellini is not the first one to use his name to curse his opponent. In the past, several footballers have used the ‘Kiricocho’ name to impart bad luck on their opposition.