Euro 2012: Daniele De Rossi excited to face ‘idol’ Steven Gerrard
Daniele De Rossi is eagerly anticipating his clash with "idol" Steven Gerrard when Italy and England meet on Sunday
Daniele De Rossi is relishing the chance to face his “idol” Steven Gerrard after England’s victory over Ukraine set up a quarter-final clash with Italy on Sunday.
The talismanic Roma midfielder helped the Azzurri book their place in the last eight with a 2-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland, after Cesare Prandelli’s side avoided defeat against Croatia and Spain in their other Group C games.
The 28-year-old Italian, capped 75 times, insisted Italy are well schooled on their next opponents, and De Rossi singled out Roy Hodgson’s captain Gerrard as one of England’s main threats.
“It’s not like we’re discovering England now,” he said. “Gerrard has always been my idol and he’s a player who’s been at the top level of the game for 10 years.”
“You see Gerrard defending and attacking. I would like to be able to play more like that.
“But they’ve also got many interesting young players, especially on the wings.
“And [England boss Roy] Hodgson has experience in Italy, so they know how to defend, too.”
Roma’s De Rossi admitted his record against English clubs in the Champions League is underwhelming – he suffered aggregate defeats by Manchester United in 2007 and 2008, including a 7-1 loss at Old Trafford.
“When I think about, I’ve never really made an impact against an English squad,” he added.
“But I’ve never faced England’s national team – not even at the junior level.
“It’s an honour to play against such a great squad. I’ve played in a lot of matches with the national team, so this gives me a new reason to get excited.”