Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon has claimed he would have been "carted off" if he suggested he could lead his country to European Championship glory before they reached the quarter-finals.
But the goalkeeper has now boldly declared them contenders for the title ahead of Sunday's quarter-final showdown with England. Italy have failed to kick on from winning the World Cup in 2006, getting knocked out of Euro 2008 in the last eight and not even qualifying for the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup.
With Spain and Germany still in Euro 2012, Italy remain very much dark horses in many people's eyes. Buffon said: "I have never said that we will win the tournament because, if I had said that, I might have been carted off."
He added: "I would have been rather presumptuous, given that there is Spain, who are much stronger than anyone, and Germany, who are much better than the others.
"But this does not mean that, if we meet these teams, we will automatically lose."
To play Germany in the semi-finals, Italy must first beat England on Sunday. Buffon, 34, said: "I only ever faced England in two friendlies and we won both. I've never played them in an important match before. I hope there will be more occasions, but I above all hope we win this one."
Buffon laughed off the prospect of a penalty shootout against England. England goalkeeper Joe Hart revealed on Thursday he had already studied videos of penalties taken by Italy's players as part of his preparations for the match.
But when Buffon was asked at a press conference if he had followed suit, he appeared to insinuate jokingly that he and his fellow keepers might spend their evening watching videos of a very different kind.
"We have not watched any videos," Buffon said. "We will watch a video tonight."
Buffon and understudy Salvatore Sirigu then burst out laughing, both struggling to compose themselves before the press conference resumed.