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World Cup Player Profile: Daniele De Rossi

Daniele De Rossi is about to play in his third World Cup, so what makes DDR so special and what does he bring to the Azzurri?

Claudio Villa

While Daniele De Rossi's place in Italy's national lineup was never in doubt, Roma's combative midfielder endured a difficult 2012-2013 season under Zdenek Zeman and Aurelio Andreazzoli, often playing out of position, or sometimes not at all. From the moment De Rossi became a Roma regular in 2004, he was a veritable lock for 30 appearances each season under a host of different managers. That is, until, Zeman came to town and, for reasons unknown, deemed him unworthy of a regular place. Fortunately for club and country, 2013-2014 was a rebirth for one of the world's most unique midfielders.

Beyond being lauded for his skill on the pitch, De Rossi, along with club teammate Francesco Totti, has received demigod status among the Roman fan base for the loyalty he has shown to the club and city of his birth. Given his prodigious talent, it wasn't long before the giants of global football sought his services. Turning down a chance at immeasurable wealth, the opportunity to chase title after title, and a shot at becoming a global superstar, De Rossi remained loyal to his hometown club. His undying fealty to the Roman crest will assure that his name resonates beyond simple trophies and treasures.

To the Romans, De Rossi is a legend in name, shape and form. To Italy, he is the key to all that the Azzurri hope to achieve in Brazil.

Daniele De RossiMidfielderItaly95 Caps, 15 goals Group D

Service for Italy

De Rossi's international resume is as sterling as they come. At the youth level, De Rossi has a 2004 U-21 European Championship and a Bronze Medal from the 2004 Olympics to his name. Following his promotion to the senior squad in the fall of 2004, De Rossi has been a fixture in the Italian setup, making over 90 appearances for the Azzurri, including their 2006 World Cup triumph and their runners-up performance at the 2012 European Championships, where De Rossi was even pressed into service as a centerback.

What Makes him Interesting

De Rossi's combination of intensity, defensive prowess, and offensive acumen is almost unparalleled in the global game. You're just as likely to see De Rossi making two game changing tackles in a matter of seconds, as you are to witness him unleash a thunderous goal from distance.

There really is no limit to his game beyond that which he sets himself, as DDR, as he's known among the Roman faithful, has moments where his exuberance gets the best of him. American readers will no doubt remember his elbow to Brian McBride's face during the 2006 World Cup; a transgression for which De Rossi immediately apologized following the match.

Given his unique and combustible set of skills, it should come as no surprise that De Rossi is as equally irreplaceable for Italy, providing crucial defensive coverage for Giorgio Chiellini and the rest of Italy's backline, while also alleviating the offensive pressure on Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchiso in the midfield.

And, if that isn't enough to pique your interests, he also has an interesting collection of tattoos. No, your eyes don't deceive you, those are Telletubbies.

What to expect in Brazil

If Italy's most recent friendly against Luxembourg was any indication, De Rossi will sit in between the defense and Cesare Prandelli's three man midfield, a role in which he has excelled on the international stage. Considering the amount of attacking talent in Group D, including England's Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge and the Uruguayan combo of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, De Rossi's defensive contributions will be essential to any success Italy might find throughout this tournament. Don't take your eye off De Rossi when Italy has the ball, either. De Rossi's is among the games best at distributing the ball from the deepest reaches of the pitch, while his right leg can beat nearly any keeper from 20 yards out.

De Rossi is an immensely talented and intriguing player, one whose contributions will dictate the extent of Italy's success in Group D and beyond.