Arrigo Sacchi flew back to face the anger of a humiliated nation yesterday determined to stay on as Italy's coach.
Sacchi, who signed a new two-year contract with the Italian football federation in March, said at his final news conference in Manchester before his beaten European Championship squad left for home: "I have no intention of resigning. If my new contract had been conditioned by the results of Euro 96 I would not have signed it. I would like to continue as the Italian coach. If they don't want me, I will be on the market. I have refused a lot of money to stay with Italy and this should be enough to prove my dedication."
Antonio Matarrese, the president of the federation, said: "We were slightly presumptuous against the Czechs but that was the only big mistake that I felt Sacchi made. Of course we are disappointed to have been eliminated, but we went out with dignity and standing on our feet. We must remember that Sacchi has changed the face of Italian football. It is now refreshing and exciting, and it must be recognised that he took us to the 1994 World Cup final."
Italy lost only one of their three Group C fixtures - 2-1 to the Czech Republic a week ago - but that caused their downfall, with the Czechs advancing to the quarter-finals at the Italians' expense. "In our group were teams rated first, second and 10th in the world by Fifa and I think we played better than all of them," Sacchi insisted. Sadly for him, that was not enough.
Euro 96, page 28