Giorgio Chiellini has claimed he put a curse on Bukayo Saka before the teenage England star missed the decisive penalty that saw Italy win Euro 2020.
Saka was left heartbroken after seeing his spot-kick palmed out by Gianluigi Donnarumma, ending the Three Lions’ stellar campaign in the cruellest of fashions at Wembley.
But Italy defender Chiellini, who is no stranger to using every trick in the book during games, has now revealed that he uttered the word ‘Kiricocho’ just as Saka stepped up to take his penalty.
Slow motion footage of the Italian players during the moment Donnarumma clinched them the trophy shows Chiellini, 36, mouthing the word, before racing away to celebrate.
‘Kiricocho’ is a term that originates from South America, and is believed to translate into English as ‘curse you’ or ‘jinx’.
It has truly bizarre origins, with the word taking its name from a supporter of Estudiantes in Argentina during the 1980s. The fan would attend training, but his appearances would coincide with the team’s stars picking up injuries.
Carlos Bilardo, the club’s superstitious manager, then asked Kiricocho to attend matches to put a ‘hex’ on their opponents.
The team subsequently lost just once that season – on the only occasion that the supporter didn’t attend.
The story of the curse spread across the Spanish-speaking football world and the word has been seen to be uttered by players in key moments of matches in Europe.
Spain’s Joan Capdevila claims he shouted it to lead to Arjen Robben missing a one-on-one chance in the 2010 World Cup final, while Erling Haaland recently roared back at a goalkeeper who tried to put him off by chanting ‘Kiricocho’.
Chiellini was quizzed on whether or not he used the curse by ESPN Argentina, and the veteran promptly owned up with a wry smile on his face.
‘Ciao, Cristiano,’ he told a reporter. ‘I confirm everything to you. Kiricocho!’