I can’t even imagine for one minute what it’s like to be a top professional athlete, to know that out of the billions of people running around this planet, you’re among an infinitesimal percentage skilled enough to play a game for a living, and to be paid ungodly sums of money in the process. And while there’s a certain amount of luck involved in that career path, I can’t imagine dedicating yourself so completely to something only to have it ripped away from you when you’re barely into your thirties; talk about a shock to the system.
So it’s really no wonder that so many players have to be dragged away from the pitch kicking and screaming into retirement—it has to be hard to let go of the only life you’ve ever known. Considering all that, it always surprises me how quickly and how easily players “retire” from international duty, only to return a year or two later, or in the case of Lionel Messi, to literally never miss an international match after your supposed retirement.
Maybe they’re just knee jerk reactions to a stunning loss, or in the case of Francesco Totti after winning the 2006 World Cup, the realization that you’ll never top that moment, but footballers are often quick to call it quits on their national teams. However, more often than not, these retirements are anything but permanent.
So, with all that in mind, it is with great pleasure that we get to discuss this next story: Daniele De Rossi wants to play for Italy again!!!
If you’re an avid fan of the Azzurri, you’re no doubt familiar with the feeble manner in which they fell out of the 2018 World Cup, falling all the way to the playoff rounds where they lost to Sweden. And if you’re a Roma and/or De Rossi fan, you’ll never forget the site of DDR screaming at Giampiero Ventura when he asked him to warm up and come on in the second half against Sweden.
With Italy needing a goal, De Rossi was quite puzzled and obviously upset that Ventura would choose to insert him rather than Lorenzo Insigne, and he made his feelings known rather...um...vociferously. Not the most dignified moment of De Rossi’s career, but you can’t really argue with his broader point.
Following Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup, De Rossi was one of several Italy vets to call it a day on his international career, one which, for De Rossi, was record breaking, as his 117 caps ranked fourth all-time and are the most among any non-defender/keeper. So, to have that as his last moment in an Italy shirt wouldn’t befit his legacy with the Azzurri.
Well, it looks like De Rossi isn’t happy with that lasting image either...
According to Il Tempo, De Rossi is considering a return to Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri side, with an eye on qualifying and competing in Euro 2020, which will be played in Rome, amongst other European cities—Euro 2020 will be a continent wide competition to honor the 60th anniversary of the tournament.
In order to remain match fit at 37-years-old in 2020, De Rossi will need to test himself against the highest level competition possible. In order to do that, De Rossi is seeking to extend his Roma deal by an additional year. Currently set to expire in June of 2019, De Rossi is keen to tack on an additional year to that deal, which would serve as an ideal bridge to Euro 2020.
Between all the FFP nonsense over the past few years, the managerial changes and the frenetic pace with which Monchi has assaulted the transfer market this summer, a gigantic and franchise altering storyline has sort of been swept under the rug: this is it, this is De Rossi’s final season with the only club he’s ever known.
So behind all the match previews and reviews, all the analyses of the club’s tactics, all the anticipation of the Champions League, Roma will be haunted by the spectre of De Rossi’s final season. And given the way they treated Totti during his swansong, that demon won’t be exorcised so easily.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stomach the thought of the club praising De Rossi for his service, passion and commitment with one hand, while they push him out the door with the other. If they did it to Totti, they can do it to anyone, De Rossi included.
Given the manner in which he bounced back this year, De Rossi should have dispelled any doubts about his longevity, and with Roma’s added depth in midfield, there should be ample rest for Roma’s captain as he approaches 36 and 37-years-old, so signing him through June of 2020 wouldn’t be charity—De Rossi still has a lot to contribute to Roma.
Athletes seldom get to write their own epilogue, but reupping with Roma for another year, one in which the club should be a major trophy threat, then capitaining Italy through Euro 2020 would be quite the final chapter to his storied career.
Daniele De Rossi deserves that honor, and more to the point, he’s earned it.