As Matteo Pessina drilled home Italy's second goal to settle a tense last-16 tie against Austria at Wembley, Gianluca Vialli raced from his seat behind the technical area to embrace his great friend Roberto Mancini.
It was a display of raw emotion that went far deeper than the simple celebration of a decisive strike. Together, at this venue, Vialli and Mancini had experienced the greatest disappointment of their playing careers.
Sampdoria were beaten by Barcelona in extra time in the 1992 European Cup final, with Mancini as captain. A narrow win over Austria in the last 16 is not enough to cure 29 years of hurt, however.
Roberto Mancini (c) and Gianluca Vialli (left) have a score to settle at Wembley at Euro 2020Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The duo embraced as they beat Austria in the last-16, now they have a shot at the real prize
Only two more victories — against Spain in the semi-final tonight and then England or Denmark in the final on Sunday — will provide the panacea.
Vialli and Mancini had fabulous playing careers, winning 22 major trophies between them, and have accumulated 13 more as coaches. If either could wind back the clock, however, there would be two chapters they would rewrite: that defeat by Barcelona and their international careers.
Vialli was supposed to fire Italy to the World Cup on home soil in 1990 but was hampered by injury and did not score in the tournament. Mancini was in the squad but did not play a single minute, and then neither man was selected for USA 94.
Unlike Mancini, Vialli did lift European club football's greatest prize, as Juventus captain in 1996, but the wounds of Wembley four years earlier still run deep, when Sampdoria — comparable with the Alan Shearer-inspired Blackburn side of the 1990s — were felled by Ronald Koeman's free-kick in the 112th minute.
Mancini was on the field at the old Wembley when Barcelona beat Sampdoria in 1992
Vialli was devastated too when Ronaldo Koeman's free-kick secured the Catalans the winInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Between now and Sunday, they have a tantalising opportunity to right both wrongs. Mancini has described the Barcelona game as the 'worst night of my time at Sampdoria'.
He added: 'The next day was even worse: you realise what a chance you wasted. I wanted to win it so badly. That cup had always been fixed in my mind and I