De Rossi: Gerrard is my heroPublish piece of news
De Rossi: Gerrard is my hero
The Italians can be found across town in Krakow, just under the 14th-century Wawel Castle at the Casa Azzurri.
Roma star De Rossi, the highest-paid home-based player in Serie A at £8million a year, told an interesting tale of how Italy boss Cesare Prandelli had paid him the highest possible compliment after the final Group C win over the Republic of Ireland.
De Rossi said: “He told me how well I had performed and that I was the complete player. But he was wrong. That accolade goes to Steven Gerrard.”
It’s not the sort of thing you expect to hear from a professional footballer when he’s talking about the man who is skipper of the team you will face on Sunday in the European Championship quarter-final in Kiev. But 28-year-old De Rossi, winner of 75 caps, was unrepentant.
He went on: “Gerrard has been my idol for 10 years and is one of the best players in the world. He is the example of what all midfield players aspire to. He is always there in the heat of the battle, leading by example. He is everywhere you look — in defence, in the middle of the pitch and in attack. I would love to be close to that level.”
Fulsome praise indeed from a rival. So much so you can hardly believe it. It’s at moments like these you remember Alex Ferguson’s famous quote that when an Italian says it’s pasta ‘always check under the sauce’.
Yet this time there seemed to be no ulterior motive. Well, apart from to lure England into a false sense of security. The Italian Press seem delighted their team is playing England in the quarter-final, not France.
They see in the lack of pace of John Terry and Joleon Lescott a way for strikers Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale to win the match.
Prandelli himself suggested before France came a cropper against Sweden on Tuesday night that he expected his last- eight opponents to be coming from ‘across the Alps’.
De Rossi, though, was predictably more circumspect. “We had no preference between France and England. They are both great teams. If we did have a choice from their group, it would have probably been Ukraine.
“Now it’s England we just have to get on with it. I may not have seen much of them out here but you always know what to expect. Big defence, very active in midfield, lots of running and covering — and now Wayne Rooney back in attack. He will really want to leave his mark on the tournament.”
You somehow doubt the Italians will be standing back and applauding Gerrard then.
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