<p>Slow motion footage shows Chiellini mouthing the literal curse word “kiricocho.”</p>

Slow motion footage shows Chiellini mouthing the literal curse word “kiricocho.”

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Italian footballer Giorgio Chiellini is known for going to great lengths to win matches, but we didn’t realise he’d go so far as to cast spells. Indeed, the wizard — we mean, Italian defender — claims to have “cursed” England’s Bukayo Saka during the Euro Final.

Slow motion footage shows Chiellini mouthing the literal curse word “kiricocho” moments before the England star missed the decisive penalty that cost his team the game,

The legend of “kiricocho” dates back to 1982, when Estudiantes de La Plata — an Argentine professional football club — noticed that one die-hards fan’s presence at training continually corresponded with their players getting hurt. The club’s manager, Carlos Bilardo, was highly superstitious, but instead of barring him from matches, he actually hired the die-hard Estudiantes enthusiast to attend the club’s matches and “hex” their opponents, instead.

That fan’s name was — you guessed it — “Kiricocho.” And, as legend says, Bilardo’s team lost just once that season —  the one and only time Kiricocho was unable to be in attendance. The tale of the notorious curse has since spread across South America and Spanish speaking countries — and apparently, to Italy, as well — thus coming to a head at Euro 2020.

When asked whether he’d muttered the magic words amid the match, Chiellini proudly told an ESPN Argentina reporter, via selfie camera: “Ciao, Cristiano. I confirm everything to you. Kiricocho!”

ESPN Argentina then tweeted (in Spanish, since translated): “CONFIRMED: HE SAID ‘KIRICOCHO!’ Chiellini assured that he used the famous curse associated with Estudiantes so that England missed the last penalty.”

One thing’s for sure: We will not be messing with Giorgio Chiellini. Or any Argentine footballer or fan, for that matter.

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