A member of the Italy under-21 national football team, reaching the final of the 1986 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, Donadoni made his Italy national team senior debut on 8 October 1986, under Azeglio Vicini in a 2–0 victory over Greece. He soon became a key member of his national side, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 1988, and he subsequently played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, on home soil, helping Italy to a third place finish. Unfortunately, he missed one of the penalties in the fateful semi-final shoot-out against defending champions and eventual runners-up Argentina. Overall, he made five appearances throughout the tournament, missing out on the round of 16 victory against Uruguay due to injury, and the bronze medal match victory against England. Donadoni also took part at the 1994 World Cup, under Arrigo Sacchi, helping Italy to a second-place finish, where Italy would once again be defeated on penalties, by Brazil. However, on this occasion Donadoni did not take a penalty in the final shoot-out. En-route to the final, he set up Dino Baggio’s goal in Italy’s 2–1 quarter-final victory over Spain, and also provided the throw-in on the left flank from which Roberto Baggio scored his first goal in Italy’s 2–1 over Bulgaria in the semi-finals of the tournament. He also represented Italy at Euro 1996, which would be his final international tournament prior to his international retirement, appearing in all three group matches. His final appearance for Italy was on 19 June 1996, in the final group match, which ended in a 0–0 draw against the eventual champions Germany, eliminating the Italians in the first round of the tournament. Overall, Donadoni made 63 appearances for Italy, scoring five goals.