Other than the obvious, not getting to see the Azzurri this summer, Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup robbed fans of La Nazionale of a proper swan song for a host of Azzurri stalwarts, some of whom were instrumental in Italy’s successes in 2006 and, to a lesser extent, Euro 2012. From Gianluigi Buffon to Giorgio Chiellini to Claudio Marchisio, Russia 2018, win lose or draw, was meant to be an emotional sending off for several of Italy’s most lauded veterans.
While those names are all well and good, the only one that really mattered to Roma fans was Daniele De Rossi. DDR was just scratching the surface of his talents when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, and while he was most definitely the junior member of a team that featured Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Fabio Cannavaro, Luca Toni, and Buffon, DDR more than held his own among those luminaries, with his energy and hard tackling enabling Italy to choke each and every opponent along the way. You know, when he was suspended for breaking Brian McBride’s face.
De Rossi would eventually graduate from understudy to leader, donning the number ten shirt during Euro 2008 and once again during the 2009 Confederations Cup. No matter what number he wore, De Rossi was always there, ready to subvert his ego for the greater good, even featuring as a center back for Cesare Prandelli’s Euro 2012 squad.
All told, De Rossi would accrue 117 caps for Italy, fourth most all-time and the most for any non-defender and/or keeper in Italian history, while his 21 goals scored are just outside the top ten of all-time. No matter how you slice it, De Rossi logged one of the best Azzurri runs ever.
Unfortunately, the lasting image many have of De Rossi in blue is him arguing with Giampiero Ventura on the sideline when the ill-fated manager, needing a goal, thought it better to bring on De Rossi than Lorenzo Insigne, to which DDR vociferously protested, which says more about Ventura’s horrible tenure than it does about De Rossi’s attitude.
But, if you’re inclined to believe De Rossi’s latest interview, that might not be the official bookend to his Azzurri career.
I’ve always seen the Nazionale as a family and if the new Coach calls...With the play-off against Sweden, I think it was the end of an era for some of us and, when you fail, it’s right to step aside...
Now they’ll choose a new Coach and there are good players. Having said that, I’ve always seen the Nazionale as a family and it’s not as if I closed the door and threw away the key. If, who knows, the new Coach decides to contact me and thinks I can help, then what? Of course, I am still 34 years old and there’s nothing I can do about that.
At this point why not? With the World Cup done and dusted for Italy, the best De Rossi could hope for is to lend a helping hand during the Euro 2020 qualification campaign, which begins in March of 2019, and if that goes well, who knows, maybe he’s the token elder statesmen two summers from now?
The odds are slim, but it’s not as if we’re staring down the barrel of a golden generation of Italian talent, so it’s not out of the question that De Rossi, or another Azzurri veteran, could worm their way into the Euro 2020 picture.