Born and bred in the Eternal City, Daniele De Rossi rose through the ranks at Roma and has never represented any other club. A capable holding midfielder who protects the defence with aplomb, he is also quick to try his luck from distance whenever the chance arises – qualities which have helped him contest over 300 games for I Giallorossi. The perfect foil to Roma ace Francesco Totti, he also shares his club-mate's burning will to win and the character to match.

 

A European champion with the Italian U-21s in 2004, De Rossi also won bronze at the Athens 2004 Men's Olympic Football Tournament. He was promoted to full international duty in a qualifier for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ against Norway just a few months later, contributing a debut goal in a 2-1 victory. On 30 March the following year, and still only 21, he then donned the captain's armband for the first time in the second half of a 0-0 friendly draw with Iceland.

 

Germany 2006 proved to be an up-and-down affair, however. Sent off just 26 minutes into the group match against USA, De Rossi received a four-match suspension, only making his return in the second half of the Final against France – but, crucially, converting his penalty in the shoot-out. Like his colleagues, he was then unable to shine in South Africa four years later, but that did not dent his reputation in the eyes of incoming coach Cesare Prandelli.

 

A versatile performer capable of playing in almost every position, he has settled into the role of a defensive midfielder cut from the same cloth as England duo Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. He is nothing short of a pillar of the Italy team, having racked up over 80 caps, and in 2010 he was voted Italian Sportsman of the Year.