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‘Meritocracy has not prevailed’ — West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna ‘amazed and bitter’ over Italy snub for Euro 2020

By Ben Green

Published: 12:14, 1 June 2021

West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna has confessed his ‘amazement’ and ‘bitterness’ after Roberto Mancini omitted him from his Italy squad for Euro 2020.

Ogbonna, 33, was a pillar of excellence in the heart of West Ham’s defence in 2020/21, as David Moyes’ men gatecrashed the top-six party and secured progression to the Europa League group stages, finishing with the club’s highest-ever Premier League points total.

The performances of Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal and Jesse Lingard largely stole the headlines, but prior to an injury which kept Ogbonna out of action for eight games between February and April, he was firmly in contention for the club’s ‘Hammer of the Year’ award.


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The Italian was rock solid at the back for West Ham in 2020/21, providing an authoritative presence and reassuring aura, as Moyes’ men went to work at the opposite end of the field. If play broke down, Ogbonna was regularly there to mop up and recycle possession with pace and fluidity.

Since moving to east London the 33-year-old has been a beacon of consistency and his form was rewarded with a call-up in autumn’s international break, but this latest snub has irked the experienced centre-back, who believes performances this term should have been recognised by Mancini.

“I am very amazed and also bitter, perhaps he did not take into consideration the West Ham championship,” Ogbonna told Corriere della Sera.

“We fought until the end for the Champions League qualification with Jorginho and Palmieri’s Chelsea, who finished higher, but we showed that we can beat any team.”

Ogbonna added: “In sport, meritocracy must prevail, based on the championship in which one plays, on the statistics, on the value of the player.

“And this time, in my opinion, it did not prevail.”

“He has become the fulcrum at Chelsea”

Despite revealing his shock that Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri were included in Mancini’s 26 without himself being there, Ogbonna did go on to sing the praises of the former, believing he has become an instrumental part of the club’s recent successes.

“He has always been underestimated, perhaps because of his stature, but he has always made a difference and with [Maurizio] Sarri he evolved, he has also become the fulcrum at Chelsea,” said Ogbonna of Jorginho.

“The Premier League has changed its skin thanks to the many foreign coaches: it is more tactical, more studied. And in this Jorginho has changed many scenarios.

“For the national team he is fundamental, for his personality and for his ability to read the timing of the match, especially when the rhythms get up.”

READ MORE: Italy team preview ahead of Euro 2020

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