Sunderland woman living in 'football crazy' Italy says tension is rising for Euro 2020

It’s here at last – the Covid-delayed Euro 2020 football tournament begins on Friday, June 11.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 6:00 pm

And one former Sunderland woman is right at the heart of the country which will kick off a month of sporting action.

Italy take on Turkey in the opening game and Sandra Perry, nee Laws, knows all about the Italian passion for the beautiful game.

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Expats Greg and Sandra Perry who live in Italy where the 'football crazy' nation is ready for the Euros.

They’ve watched the highs and lows of the game – including once having to watch England go out of the Euros on penalties to Italy on a big screen in an Italian bar!

Sandra, originally from Farringdon, said: “Most Italians are very passionate about their national sport and are football crazy."

Euro fever has well and truly gripped the country but with a definite air of Covid caution still attached to it. Many people will watch the Azzurri but from the comfort of their homes, said Sandra.

Supermarkets in Italy have been offering huge discounts on beer and snacks which are ‘essential items for football fans watching the action on their televisions at home’.

Greg and Sandra at their Italian home.

TV sales are huge and many fans will be ‘watching their their favourite teams through large widescreens using the latest technology. Most bars and restaurants have televisions so no one misses the football.

“However, tomorrow begins with Italy playing Turkey followed on Wednesday Italy v Switzerland and Italy v Wales so lots of tense times.”

Sandra recalled a fateful day in 2012 when England played Italy in the European Championships quarter final.

“A table and chairs had been reserved for us and the match was Italy v England. It was a very tense time and eventually Italy won and the Italians, feeling sorry for us, gave us cuddles and kisses.

Greg and Sandra shortly before they married.

"We will never know what action they would have taken if the final score had been in England’s favour.

"The next big match was the semi-final with Italy v Germany and the bar had prepared well.

"They took a large bookshelf out of the bar, moved it into the beer garden and put a very large screen television on top of it. We had a table and chairs reserved for us again.

"It was an equally tense atmosphere and we were of course on the Italian’s side. The Italians won with Balotelli scoring two goals and the whole area went electric with a tremendous noise of cheering, singing, cars blasting horns and fireworks lighting up the sky.”

Relaxing in the sun on the doorstep of their Italian home.

Later, she met a Business Studies undergraduate from Sunderland University (then Sunderland Polytechnic) and eventually married Greg.

Greg spent one year working at Haskel Energy Systems on North Hylton Road and returned to complete his final university year. Sandra worked in Pallion for Bonas Machine Co eventually becoming responsible for shipping the firm’s looms throughout the world.

They moved to Lincolnshire where Sandra soon became employed using her legal skills.

Greg worked in sales and marketing and had the chance to visit Bologna and Milan on business. He took along Sandra and now they call it home.

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