7 questions for World Cup winner Daniele De Rossi
The Italian midfielder talks regrets, dealing with pressure and his memories of the infamous Zidane headbutt.EDGAR staff June 24, 2014
While Italy fans will be praying that De Rossi wins his fitness battle in time for the Azzuri's crunch match with Uruguay this evening, the combative midfielder took some time out to answer a few questions.
How is the team looking forward to facing Uruguay?>
With Uruguay we know that we're going to have to fight for every ball and be at our best. They have a tough defence and they have Suarez and Cavani up front. We need to snuff out that danger. But they will be worrying about us, too.
You’re probably one of the very few footballers who can look back on a World Cup that your team won and feel a tinge of regret.>
It is true. I look back on 2006 and think that it would have been nice if it had been different. The foul I did on Brian McBride was bad, and I apologised to him for it immediately afterwards. I got banned for four matches, so I missed four of the great games of our World Cup winning campaign. I’ll always regret that and wish I could wind back and not have that moment of madness. I’m sure Brian does too. But he accepted my apologies, and I paid the price.
You did, of course, still play a major part in Italy winning the World Cup, however. That must be unforgettable.
Yes, at least I wasn’t banned for the final – that would have been a heartbreaker. I came on after 60 minutes and played to the end of the game and then extra time. When it went to penalties, I knew I’d be taking a kick. It’s hard to describe how much pressure that puts you under. Especially considering what had gone before, I’d have been Italy’s villain if I’d missed my kick, too. But luckily it went in.
You didn’t look too much under pressure when you dispatched that though.
Believe me there is nothing like it. You need a good poker face for penalties, and I managed to keep cool. The relief that flooded through me was indescribable. And the euphoria when we won it, that is hard to put into words. To know you are a World Cup winner, it doesn’t seem real at first. It takes a few days to really sink in.
That was a crazy final wasn’t it, looking back – especially Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Materazzi.
I’m sure Zizou looks back on that and still can’t work out what got into him. Marco Materazzi got to him, but he should have just been professional and brushed it off. But we have moments of madness in football. I know that from the McBride thing, but luckily it didn’t cost me as badly as it cost Zidane. If he’d stayed on the pitch, maybe France would have won their second World Cup, because he was the best player in the world.
How do you reflect on having a World Cup winner’s medal in your collection, eight years on.
I don’t know how eight years have passed so quickly. It obviously remains the high point of my career. I’ve been lucky in my career and enjoyed it all, but winning the World Cup tops everything. It is something to tell the grandchildren, something that will last forever, it is in the history books. It’s the best sporting event in the world.
Does that drive you on as a player, wanting to taste that winning feeling again in 2014 in Brazil?
Yes. You get a hunger for winning and I’d love to win the trophy one more time. It would stake Italy’s claim for being the best team in the history of the tournament, because we’ve won it four times, and Brazil have five. Having two World Cup winner’s medals would also put me in an exclusive club. Not many players can win two. Daniele De Rossi is an Adidas player.