Cesare Prandelli took the coaching reins of the Italian national team in 2010 whe the Azzurri were rock bottom.

Fast forward two years and the Azzurri are once again a football powerhouse.

Although their 4-0 defeat in the final of Euro 2012 in the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday took away some of the gloss of their campaign, they can look back at Euro 2012 with satisfaction.

During the competition Prandelli had, on a number of occasions, made suggestions that his tenure at the helm could come to an end once the Ukraine/Poland adventure was over.

But after first-half goals from David Silva and Jordi Alba and late strikes by substitutes Fernando Torres and Juan Mata gave Spain a third-consecutive major title after the 2008 Euro and the World Cup two years ago, Prandelli was already singing a different tune.

“There were times, when I was not quite certain whether I would continue,” the 54-year-old said. “But this project has to continue.

“You can never be happy after a defeat, but as time goes on, you realise we’ve had an extraordinary tournament,” “When I fly over Kiev and I see the stadium lights, I will be disappointed, but we’ve had a fantastic tournament and I will soon feel better.” Prandelli took the job in difficult conditions two years ago.

Having been knocked out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by footballing minnows Slovakia, Italians felt that defeat was second only to the loss suffered at the hands of North Korea in 1966.

Although Prandelli used many of the 2010 World Cup players and the preparations for Euro 2012 were overshadowed by a widespread match-fixing investigation, which resulted in regular defender Dominico Criscito being withdrawn from the squad following an early-morning police raid at the training camp, Prandelli managed to overcome all the odds.

His -- and Italy’s success -- also had a lot to do with the fact that he managed to get the best out of the youngest player in his squad, Mario Bolatelli.

The Manchester City striker has a reputation -- earned by red cards and several off the field incidents -- of being a volatile player who grabs more headlines for his exploits off the field than for those on it.

Although there was some doubt whether the 21-year-old would even be chosen for the squad as a result of his disciplinary record, Balotelli managed to put all that aside and scored three goals, which helped Italy through to the final.

As Prandelli turns his sight on qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he has some work ahead of him.

The Euro squad was the fourth-oldest at the tournament, with only Sweden, Russia and Ireland having an older team.

He may start planning without players like inspirational midfielder Andrea Pirlo or striker David di Natale, who are on the wrong side of 30.

Prandelli admitted that the result in Sunday’s final was one of the reasons why he decided to continue.

“I took the defeat into account, of course, when I made my decision. It is impossible to leave now,” he said.

Prandelli, who lost only once (in the final) in 16 competitive matches since taking over, said that one of the reasons why he was considering stepping down was that the match-fixing scandal had tired him.

But having taken the side back to the close to the top of international football, Prandelli is now looking forward to taking them even higher.

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