Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi had “so many layers to the emotions” of securing Italy’s Euro 2020 ticket at the Stadio Olimpico.

He was a relatively surprising pick to start alongside Leonardo Bonucci in the 2-0 win over Greece, maintaining the 100 per cent record in Group J.

“We qualified with three games to spare and after the disappointment of the World Cup, that is extraordinary. All we can do is tip our hats to the whole squad for this run,” the Lazio defender told Rai Sport.

The whole team visited the patients at the children’s hospital in Rome this week, but the presents went both ways, because the Italy team warmed up using footballs signed by the kids and wearing bibs with their drawings.

“I saw the drawings before we ran out, they were beautiful. It gave us a big, big push and we felt their enthusiasm powering us,” added the cancer survivor.

Italy dominated possession, but struggled to break through and ran a few risks on the counter-attack.

“Greece tended to press us well to go on the counter, as there were very few passing channels left open. In the second half, we managed to move the ball around better and I think it was the right result.

“Playing for Euro 2020 qualification in your ‘home’ stadium at club level is remarkable. So many layers to the emotions. We must always dream and relish the moment, then prepare for the next to keep raising the bar.

“We must always try to win because it’s such a great feeling.”

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Football Italia staff