England supporter Darren Burke and Italian partner Giulia Savini endured the highs and lows of last night’s rollercoaster game – but in the end, it was Giulia who was left celebrating after Italy triumphed over Gareth Southgate’s men in a nail-biting penalty shoot out.
Ahead of the match, Free Press reporter Darren, 48, and Giulia, 32, had described the clash between the two countries as ‘hell’ and a ‘nightmare scenario.’
But last night, the pair put aside their differences – even if it did involve watching the match in separate rooms.
Said Darren: “The build-up before the game was so tense. Both of us knew that one of us was going to end up very disappointed and upset by the end of the night.
"Giulia knew she wouldn’t be able to watch it with me screaming for England so she went and watched it on a TV in another room.”
One room was decorated in England flags with the other in the red, white and green of Italy – while a tray of buns baked especially for the occasion were marked up in the colours of both countries.
But the pair were reunited for extra time and the penalty shoot out – with both suffering the highs and lows as the spot kicks were either scored or missed.
Said Giulia, a charity worker: “I had been dreading the game all week and really couldn’t wait for it be over.
“The penalty shoot out was awful, but somehow we managed to watch it together. I am extremely proud of Italy but equally proud of the England team, they were a great team throughout the tournament.”
Doncaster-born and bred Darren and Giulia, who originally hails from near Milan but who has lived in the UK for nine years, met in 2019 and have spent the last few years showing each other their respective homelands, with holidays in the Yorkshire Dales and along the East Coast as well as time in Umbria in Italy, where Giulia's family now live.
Joked Darren: “We’re still talking to each other, despite all the banter. Now we can look forward to going through it all again at the next World Cup!”