After being at the centre of controversy at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups™, Daniele De Rossi now wants to be at the heart of Italy's push for a fifth world title.
The tough-tackling midfielder, known as 'DDR' by the media, was red carded in Germany 2006 for a crunching challenge on America's Brian McBride and fell to the floor theatrically to earn a dubious penalty against New Zealand four years later in South Africa.
Playing in his third FIFA World Cup, the 30-year-old, who has spent his entire senior career at Roma, admits he fears what Brazil 2014 might have in store. "Superstitious? A little bit," he said ahead of Friday's second Group D match against Costa Rica in Recife. "Especially of a red card. After all these years, the only time I have been sent off playing for Italy was in 2006. Now I want to make sure that we qualify for the second round."
Having defeated England 2-1 in their opener, Italy will face Costa Rica who stunned Copa America champions Uruguay in their first match. "It was better for us that Costa Rica beat Uruguay otherwise we would have risked underestimating them. Now we won't," De Rossi said, according to Italian FA website www.figc.it.
I want to make sure that we qualify for the second round.
"We have to have the right fear. There are no longer weak teams in the tournament, as many players play in Europe and are competitive. Costa Rica showed they are a good side and that they have interesting players. But to win on Friday would guarantee us qualification to the next round."
Not that World Cup success is going to change De Rossi, who prefers to keep his business as low key as possible: "Even at my club, I am not very enthusiastic about open training sessions. It's great for the children who come to see us but I do better without the noise of the
(fans), without you journalists," he said. "I prefer silence for my work, for concentration."
Regarded at Roma as "Capitano Futuro", the heir to captain's armband worn so long by Francesco Totti, De Rossi is also not a fan of social media, keeping his distance from Twitter and Facebook. "I am not against Twitter and Facebook, but I prefer to use private means. When I have something to say, I come to a press conference."
Another matter he is not keen on communicating is his opinion on Italy's minimum prospects in Brazil. "To do that would make me look mediocre. In Germany in 2006, we were not the favourites and yet we went on to win the title."
If Italy make the quarter-finals, and De Rossi steers clear of the cards, he will make his 100th appearance, but he has no thoughts of an impending international retirement. "When I reach that time, you (the media) will be the first to know.
"I still feel able to play at the international level, I still feel young, still strong and still have plenty of confidence in my physical ability," he said. "I love playing for the 'Nazionale' and as long as I am capable of doing it I will continue."