Daniele De Rossi has revealed that he was set to quit Italy after UEFA EURO 2016, but that the “astonishing” atmosphere in the squad persuaded him to reverse his decision and aid their push to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
La Nazionale won a pool Belgium were the favourites to and unexpectedly eliminated Spain in the Round of 16, before falling to Germany in the quarter-finals. Then-coach Antonio Conte fought back tears, as he commented: “What we created in those 45 days together was extraordinary, unique. We created a family.”
De Rossi said: “The experience with Conte was so strong, and seeing his interview brought a tear to my eye. He made me go back to believing I could be a player in a certain way, and even physically I got proof I could still hack it at a certain level. Conte is a complicated person – loyal, difficult, clear like only few others – and on top of the emotions of that tournament, I have the giant disappointment of not being able to play that last game against Germany.
“If we hadn’t created that astonishing group dynamic, I probably would’ve left La Nazionale after EURO 2016. The fact that Conte is no longer there didn’t change it for me because I felt it my duty to carry on his work in the squad."
Italy are second in Group G in Russia 2018 qualifying, behind Spain on goal difference and one point above Albania and FYR Macedonia. De Rossi scored their late equaliser, with a penalty, in the 1-1 draw at home to Spain. Italy, now coached by Giampiero Ventura, play their final qualifying match of 2016 away to Liechtenstein on 12 November.
De Rossi, 33, made his international debut in 2004. He scored a spot-kick in the shoot-out, as Italy won the Germany 2006 final, and has won 108 caps.
During Roma’s 3-1 win at Sassuolo on Wednesday evening, Alessandro Florenzi ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. In an incredible gesture, De Rossi accompanied his team-mate to the hospital and waited there until 4am for the results of the scan.