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De Rossi to Leave Azzurri After 2018 World Cup

De Rossi speculates on the end to one of the Azzurri’s best stories.

Italy Walk Around And Press Conference Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

While Daniele De Rossi has spent the bulk of his Roma career in Francesco Totti’s enormous shadow—never disrespected or unappreciated, just not quite the same, if you know what I mean—there is one arena in which DDR has bested Totti throughout their respective careers, his time with the Italian National team, for whom he has been marshalling the midfield since his 2004 debut.

When De Rossi takes the pitch tomorrow against Uruguay in Nice it will be his 113th appearance, pushing him past Dino Zoff for sole possession of fifth all time, putting him only three caps behind fourth place Andrea Pirlo.

It is a real honour for me to go beyond Zoff, soon it’ll be Andrea Pirlo, so we are talking about legends of Italian football.

I will be 34 in a couple of months and I’m absolutely certain that I could be an important player for the World Cup. But if I think of 2020, I’d be 37 years old, one has to be realistic…

If we look back at De Rossi’s recent track record with the Azzurri, particularly during a pre-World Cup year, he could potentially earn another 20 caps, which would push him past Pirlo and Paolo Maldini into third place, and if he does muster up the strength to play in Euro 2020, much of which will be played in Rome, he should pass Fabio Cannavaro with ease, potentially making him the most capped outfield player in Italy’s illustrious history.

Think about that for a second. De Rossi is already the most prolific scoring midfielder Italy has had in the Post-WWII era, he’s won an Under-21 European title, a runner’s up medal in the 2012 European Championship (where he made the all-tournament team), the 2013 Confederations Cup, a Bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics and, of course, the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and if he can string together another two plus seasons for the Azzurri, he will stand as the most resilient outfield player Italy has ever...I repeat, ever...produced.

So while we can and will fret about what sort of team will surround De Rossi in Roma over the next two seasons, let’s not lose light of his contributions to La Nazionale, because they’re damn near unparalleled.