Smalling had mixed feelings while watching the UEFA EURO 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium.
He admitted to jumping off the sofa when Luke Shaw scored within two minutes, and he was devastated by Bonucci’s equalizer and the penalty shoot-out.
Smalling, as a defender, couldn’t help but admire Chiellini and Bonucci’s ability to keep the score down during that difficult first 30 minutes.
“They might not be the most skillful but it is their experience, how quick they are in their minds, that separates them from the rest,” Smalling told The Telegraph.
“Chiellini is even older than Bonucci but they have seen it all and they are able to handle so many different situations. Take the final: for the first half an hour I thought it could be 2-0 or 3-0 [to England]. Italy’s experienced players were able to manage that.
“They have been in so many situations and they have won so much. But I doubt they have ever had a final where they have totally bossed it for 90 minutes.
“So they take the sting out of certain periods of games. They get players to group together and demand certain things from people. They simplify the young players’ roles. You saw them organizing a lot and speaking to individuals, especially in the first 25 minutes. Eventually, Italy got a little bit of a foothold and got more of the ball.”
Some England fans even started a petition demanding that the game be replayed, but Smalling understands the significance of the gesture.