During his playing days as a midfielder, Daniele De Rossi always had one eye trained on the attack and one fixated on the defense. If he was busy busting up an opponent's attacking moves, he immediately needed to know where Roma's next passing outlet was, where the wide players were and how far up the pitch Francesco Totti or Luca Toni or Mirko Vucinic were. Conversely, if he was making a late run into the box to join Roma's attack, he had to know where his support was: were the center-backs pressing up the pitch or retreating? Had the full-backs tucked inside or stayed out wide?
As a midfielder, particularly a box-to-box one, De Rossi's role was akin to a point guard in basketball, a quarterback in American football, or a catcher in baseball; he needed to have an intimate and automatic understanding of not only his role and responsibilities but those of every other position on the pitch...for both clubs.
Couple that with the fact that his father has been a coach for decades, and De Rossi's future as a manager almost seemed pre-ordained. After officially and finally retiring from football last year after a brief stint with Boca Juniors, pundits in Italy immediately began speculating on De Rossi's transition into coaching. Was he going to follow his father's steps and go the youth route? Would he skip the formalities and take a top Serie A gig straight away? Or would he serve as an assistant for a more experienced manager?
Well, we now have our answer: Daniele De Rossi has officially joined Roberto Mancini's staff with the Italian National Team. Earlier today, the FIGC officially unveiled De Rossi as the latest addition to the Azzurri coaching staff.
De Rossi spoke about the pride, sense of familiarity, and the feeling of excitement as he enters the next phase of his career:
I am proud to start this new career with the national team and I thank both the president Gravina and the coach Mancini for the trust and for the opportunity. It will be exciting to return to Coverciano, which for me means returning home. and find many former teammates and many friends in the staff and in the group, and I can’t wait to start. I will do it with enthusiasm, knowing that I am only at the beginning and I still have a lot to learn, but I also hope to be able to help to the team
Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini echoed those sentiments:
I am very pleased that Daniele joins our group, I am sure he will be able to give the players an important contribution and I hope that his first experience will be useful for the future
And finally, FIGC President Gabriele Gravina spoke on the newest Azzurri coach:
I am sure that his history, his experience, his indissoluble bond with the Azzurri shirt can become an added value for a team that has already shown that it can aspire to prestigious results. The coach will know how to enhance his skills within the group and the staff. This new experience will also guarantee Daniele further growth in his technical training course
According to the official FIGC release, De Rossi will remain on Mancini's staff through this summer's European Championships, after which we can only presume he'll explore managerial opportunities of his own, provided he has all the necessary licensures by then.
Either way, this promises to be the first step on a successful coaching journey for Daniele De Rossi. Stay tuned this summer as we cover Italy's quest for European glory, which will hopefully include a few shots of De Rossi screaming from the bench in a fine-pressed suit.