As Bukayo Saka took England’s fifth penalty in their Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy, captain Giorgio Chiellini could be seen mouthing something from behind him.
Chiellini appeared to shout “Kiricocho” as Saka struck the ball before Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the spot-kick and the Italian players began wildly celebrating.
ESPN Argentina quizzed Chiellini on the use of the word and he admitted: “I confirm everything to you. Kiricocho!”
So, just what does the word mean and what did Chiellini mouth it at a crucial time in last Sunday’s Euro 2020 final?
The word originates from South America and is in fact the name of an Estudiantes supporter in the 1980s.
The fan used to watch the Argentine club train before matches, and, bizarrely, whenever he was present a member of the squad would pick up a freak injury.
Estudiantes manager Carlos Bilardo allegedly decided to see if the ‘curse’ would work on opposing teams and had Kiricocho turn up to every match that season.
Estudiantes are said to have lost only once that campaign – the one game Kiricocho missed.
As a result of the mysterious story, Kiricocho has become something of a ‘curse’ in Argentine football, and it seems Chiellini wanted to put the theory to the test against England.
Fortunately for the Italians, it seems that it worked.
Jose Mourinho spoke out about Chiellini following the final and praised the way he orchestrated Italy’s defence throughout the match.
The Roma boss brought attention to Chiellini’s foul on Saka towards the end of regulation time, explaining why it was instrumental in Italy’s victory.
“What Chiellini did with Saka shows everything. He made his only mistake of the game, he lost the turn on the touchline. Saka was going: ‘You are not going, you stay with me, the shirt is mine and you are not going,'” Mourinho told talkSPORT.
“He knows what he is doing. This is a top defender and a very clever guy. I played Juventus with Manchester United a couple of seasons ago, and after the game at Old Trafford, I said something like: ‘These two guys should go to the University of Sports and give lectures on how to be a central defender’.
“Even a couple of years later, they are still capable of doing this. Probably Chiellini is not capable of doing it every three days, sometimes he needs a rest, sometimes he has a little injury as it happened at the beginning of the competition, but they are both prepared to be at the highest level.”