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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Toldo makes his mark
Francesco Toldo saves from the spot again
Francesco Toldo saves from the spot again
Dennis Bergkamp should have known that Holland were never going to win a penalty shoot-out against Francesco Toldo.

Toldo saved a penalty for Fiorentina against Bergkamp's Arsenal in the Champions League last season, and went on to destroy the Dutchman's hopes in Thursday's semi-final shoot-out.

Holland failed to score with two penalties in normal time, and missed three more in the final heart-breaking lottery.



They could have played for an entire day taking shots at our goal and they would never have scored

Francesco Toldo
Toldo, once again, was the hero.

"Toldo is a giant," proclaimed the Corriere newspaper.

"Toldo: super-goalkeeper!" roared Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Penalties are psychological things, wars between you and the attacker," said the keeper.

"You have to try to unsettle your opponent.

"That's why Stam missed."

Unlikely hero

Three weeks ago, Toldo was an unlikely Italian hero, to say the least.

With first-choice keeper Gianluigi Buffon in prime form - and indeed ear-marked as one of the key men in the Italian line-up - Toldo seemed destined for a tournament sat on the bench.

But when Buffon broke a bone in his hand in Italy's final warm-up game, Toldo seized his chance with both gloved hands.

"My first save was the best," said Toldo. "That was the turning-point.

"The script for this match was written before kick-off.

"They could have played for an entire day taking shots at our goal and they would never have scored."

Forgive him his confidence. After a nervous first game, when he flapped badly at a cross to gift Turkey a goal, 6'5" Toldo has been in dominant form.


Toldo is mobbed by jubilant team-mates
Toldo is mobbed by jubilant team-mates
With the Azzuri playing an almost stereotypical defensive game, content to soak up the pressure and hit on the break, Toldo's towering presence has been fundamental to his side's success.

Every international tournament tends to throw up one goalkeeping hero.

France 98 saw Paraguay's Jose-Luis Chilavert take centre-stage for his free-kicks. Euro 96 was David Seaman's penalty-saving peak.

The World Cup in 1994 made Thomas Ravelli a household name, Peter Schmeichel rose to prominence in Euro 92 and Rene Higuita entertained the world at Italia 90.

This year, we have Toldo.

Asked whether he thought he was the best keeper in the tournament, he did his best to remain modest.

"You can't make that judgement till after the final," he said.

But the reaction of his team-mates after his final spot-kick save from Paul Bosvelt said it all.

Luck

Luck played a role in his first cap for the national side, five years ago.

With then-first choice Angelo Peruzzi injured prior to the Euro 96 qualifier in Croatia, and second-choice Luca Bucci sent off, Toldo stepped in.

In Sunday's final, Toldo comes up against the other outstanding keeper of the summer - Fabian Barthez.

Barthez may be the one who got the move to Man United, and the one who goes out with a supermodel.

But don't bet against Toldo being the one with the biggest smile on his face come Monday morning.

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Italy through on penalties
29 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Holland v Italy clockwatch
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