Antonio Conte has praised his Italy squad for their efforts at Euro 2016, despite losing to Germany on penalties in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Conte ended his time in charge of Italy following the loss to Germany, as he is now set to join former England champions Chelsea.
A Mesut Ozil goal had put Germany in front before Leonardo Bonucci made it 1-1 from the penalty spot with 12 minutes of normal time remaining.
There was no winner to be found in extra-time and, after nine penalties apiece, the Azzurri were eliminated as Jonas Hector scored the decisive spot-kick.
Simone Zaza missed having come on in the dying embers of extra-time but blazed over before Premier League pair Graziano Pelle and Matteo Darmian also missed.
And, after Hector tucked his effort away, Conte’s side were eliminated with the 46-year-old now ready to head to Stamford Bridge proud of what his team accomplished.
“Against a strong side, we demonstrated that this is a tough team where all our opponents respected us – and respected us a lot,” he said.
“The national team gives you emotion and stimuli and I hope this European Championship will leave a legacy, of love for the shirts we were wearing.
“I think the biggest victory for me is having worked with this group of lads. From the kit men to the cooks – everybody who was part of this marvellous experience, this is what has given me the greatest satisfaction.
“I had the honour of working with these people who gave me everything.
“When you do everything, nobody can criticise you at all and these lads went beyond the call of duty, giving absolutely everything and I think people recognise this. You love your country and the shirt you are wearing.”