An impassioned Antonio Conte said he would love a second chance to coach Italy after masterminding his country's superb 2-0 win to depose European champions Spain.
Italy will face world champions Germany in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 after goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle crowned a masterclass in tactics and tenacity at the Stade de France.
Conte will leave Italy at the end of the tournament to become Chelsea manager after just two seasons in his post with the Azzurri.
But, after wild celebrations backed up his claims of fostering a club atmosphere within the national-team setup, the 46-year-old former Juventus boss spoke of his fondness and affection for his role.
"We prepare every game in a very detailed fashion," he said. "I am someone who tries to give as much information to my players as possible from every perspective.
"The fewer problems my players encounter on the pitch, the calmer they will be.
"As for my future, you've also heard the players themselves say I'm a real animal out there. I'm someone who really becomes very close to the people I work with.
"I've made a decision. I've taken a choice. I will have a significant experience abroad, but clearly Italy does have a place in my heart, from every perspective.
"And I really hope to be Italy coach again in the future because there is no experience like being the head coach of the Italian national side."
Conte conceded Italy cannot match the likes of Spain and Germany in terms of playing talent, meaning they must find strength in the collective – as they did so thrillingly during Monday's match.
"I've always said since I took over the Italian national side that the only route forward to achieve a semblance of success is to try and be a club, a team that plays a league season," he explained.
"We can't allow ourselves to simply be a group of players. There's no point in hiding the fact that it's not the rosiest period for Italy in terms of footballing talent so, given the fact that we can't fall back on a selection of good players, we need to be a team from every perspective."
Conte lost Daniele De Rossi to a hip injury and the Roma man's replacement, Thiago Motta, collected a booking that will rule him out of the quarter-final.
It means Italy are likely to be short in defensive midfield against an team that beat them 4-1 in a March friendly and their coach has little doubt that they must find further reserves in terms of performance to progress further in France.
"On Saturday we are playing against the best side in the European Championship, bar none," Conte added.
"This was hard today and we will need a titanic effort against Germany from every perspective.
"There are a lot of hurdles in our path but when the going gets tough we do tend to respond.
"I think Germany are a cut above the rest. I've got no problem stating that.
"We will need to recover our energy levels get some injured players back fit again and prepare the game with the same attention, desire and determination."
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