Pirlo had 154 touches in the match, a figure only surpassed by Giovanni van Bronckhorst (156 in 2000) in a European Championship game since 1980.

The 33-year-old Juventus maestro picked England apart throughout the second half and extra-time, and when he stepped up to Italy’s third spot kick, he turned the tide in the shootout.

With the coolness of a really, really cold thing, Pirlo casually dinked his pen past the floundering England keeper Joe Hart, whose psych-out tactics inspired the Italian’s chip.

“I saw that the goalkeeper was really fired up and I thought about doing that,” said Pirlo.

“It was easier to shoot that way and it put a bit of pressure on the goalkeeper.”

Ashley Young capped a miserable performance with a miserable penalty, and it was unfair that Ashley Cole, once again one of England’s best players throughout the tournament, missed the defining penalty.

Pirlo’s penalty was brilliant and required nerves of steel, but it remains as nothing to the nerves shown by its originator Antonín Panenka.

The Czech midfielder popularised the technique in 1976, when in Czechoslovakia’s European Championship final against West Germany, Panenka chipped the decisive penalty straight down the middle.

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