Superstition is often entangled with football and footballers. While certain players have lucky shin pads or pre-match rituals, some managers are biased towards certain clothing on the touchline in the biggest of matches.
When something is rendered to be out of control on the football pitch, many footballers resort to superstition–the most recent instance of this being Giorgio Chiellini of Italy against England in the recently concluded EURO 2020 final.
The match went down to spot-kicks to decide the winner, and two consecutive English misses meant that Jorginho could settle it for Italy. But Jordan Pickford made a good save, and it all fell to Bukayo Saka to keep England in the hunt.
However, the 19-year-old failed to keep his nerve and was denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma to seal the trophy for the Azzurri.
Though the goalkeeper played the most immense role in saving the penalty, Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini played his part from the halfway line–as seen from footage that surfaced following the game.
As the Italian players were awaiting Saka’s effort from the spot, Chiellini was seen to be murmuring something like a jinx immediately before the penalty was taken. The Juventus defender later admitted (see video below) that it was indeed a jinx–Chiellini used an Argentinian term called ‘Kiricocho’ to try and win the match for Italy.
The term has a long backstory that goes back to the 1980s. An Estudiantes fan of the same name was a regular in his club’s training sessions, but players used to get mysteriously injured every time he attended a session.
Instead of banning him from training and matches, then Estudiantes manager Carlos Bilardo hired Kiricocho to greet opposition players before matches. Quite oddly, Estudiantes went on to win the Argentinian title in 1982, losing just one game in the season–a game where Kiricocho did not welcome the opponents.
The story of the curse spread through the footballing world like a wildfire when Bilardo moved to Sevilla in the 1990s–even Spanish left-back Joan Capdevila admitted to using it when the Netherlands’ Arjen Robben was through on goal in the 2010 World Cup final.
As it always has, the curse worked like a dream at Wembley–and Chiellini had Kiricocho to thank for as it was he who ended up lifting the 2020 European Championship trophy for Italy on the night.