Gareth Southgate says England must be ‘savvy’ after Bonucci claim Rice comments inspired Italy

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate has warned his England players to be mindful of what they say in public after Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci claimed comments from Declan Rice helped guide them to Euro 2020 victory over the Three Lions.

Bonucci says Rice made the mistake of a young player and was “presumptuous” over the result when he said ahead of the final that England were “ready for it 10 times harder than” Italy.

Italy won the final on penalties after the game ended in a 1-1 draw, but Bonucci says the comments fired Roberto Mancini’s side up.

While Southgate is conscious that the comments may have been inflamed at the time, he feels Rice will learn from the experience.

“I suppose it’s a reminder that you always have to bear in mind what you say when you speak publicly,” said Southgate.

“It can be used as motivation for an opponent. We’ve done that in the past and it’s benefited us.

“I’m sure sometimes those things can be taken slightly out of context as well and that can make it seem even more inflammatory. I’m sure if that was the case Declan would have learnt from the situation.

“I don’t really know what he said, exactly how it was pitched and what was five minutes before it and five minutes after it that gave it its context.

“As a manager that wouldn’t bother you because you’d just stick something on the dressing room door and use it for your own ends.

“We have to be savvy enough to understand that and clearly the Italians maybe used it. The game was a draw, we have to remember it was a draw. Even though they were worthy winners of the tournament I don’t really think that was the bit that made the difference. There was a lot more to the outcome to the final than that.”

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