Simone Zaza sorry for 'letting down' Italy fans with Euro 2016 penalty miss
Italy striker Simone Zaza has apologised for "letting Italians down" after missing his penalty in Saturday's Euro 2016 quarterfinal shootout defeat to Germany, but says he will not change his style of taking spot kicks in the face of criticism and ridicule.
The Juventus forward's miss from the spot in Italy's 6-5 shootout loss in Bordeaux has been met with scorn on social media, but Zaza and those who have seen him training insists the way he lined up to beat Manuel Neuer was nothing out of the ordinary -- only the outcome of the ball clearing the crossbar, was.
"I'm sorry for letting Italians down," Zaza said after Italy returned home on Sunday. "I've missed the most important penalty of my life and I'm never going to live it down.
"I've always taken penalties that way and I was convinced I would score. I did send Neuer the wrong way, but the ball just went away as it did. It's tough but I'll try to lift myself up again."
Zaza was sent on by Italy coach Antonio Conte in the final minute of extra-time with the sole aim of taking one of Italy's penalties. He hopes he will not only be remembered for that miss, however.
"I want the Italians to remember what we achieved," he said. "It's not fair for a single episode to cancel all that we gave with our hearts. There's nothing we can do about it now. It's just a pity because we were doing something extraordinary."
Ciro Immobile did not get the chance to take a penalty since he was left on the bench by Conte, but that did not prevent him from feeling part of the squad.
"It was a great experience," Immobile told Tutto Web. "Penalties are a lottery and it went the way it went, unfortunately. I'm sorry that I didn't play against Germany, but I was there with my teammates supporting the team.
"We're pleased with how people liked this national team. Now Conte's era comes to an end and they were two fantastic but very intense years. We all felt united and we all loved being together. We loved what we were doing, and we showed it."
That was evident throughout Euro 2016 with France defender Patrice Evra expressing his regret at Italy's elimination.
"I'm sorry because they were the most well organised team," the Juventus left-back said after France booked their place in the last four by beating Iceland. "The only way Germany were going to beat them was on penalties.
"I'm proud to play in Italy with Buffon, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli. I'm sorry for them, but at the same time glad I don't have to play against them."
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.