After 117 caps in a 13 year period for Italy, legendary midfielder Daniele De Rossi has retired from international duty after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
De Rossi didn’t go quietly and was left furious at the decision to leave striker Lorenzo Insigne on the bench. When asked to warm up, a frustrated De Rossi said: “Why the hell should I go on? We don’t need to draw here, we need to win!”
But his words of wisdom didn’t change the outcome of the game and after the game, an emotional De Rossi announced his retirement from international duty in classy fashion, referring to the younger generation of Italian talent while applauding Sweden for their efforts.
To do this after missing out on World Cup qualification is a credit to the man himself.
De Rossi told RAI via ESPN in the post match interview: “It’s a dark moment for our football, very dark for those of us who were part of this two-year era.
“There will be the time to evaluate everything, but I think the only thing I can say now — which is banal — is to build on the spirit the lads showed today and the desire to take part in this adventure.
“We will begin again, just as we did after other desperately disappointing moments. I don’t believe we deserved to go out considering the 180 minutes, Sweden deserve credit for their performance, but it was fairly even.
“Now the next generation is ready to take flight and we must begin again from them. It was almost an absurd moment to associate with a football match. There was a funereal atmosphere in the locker room, yet nobody died.
“I’ve been wandering around Coverciano [the training ground] and all over the world with this shirt for over a decade, so to take it off for the last time is a strange feeling. The material is there and we can build for the future.”
Can somebody pass me a tissue because that was emotional, yet so eloquently put after such a devastating defeat.
Daniele De Rossi, who now sits in fourth place on Italy’s all-time appearance list, will go down as one of their greatest ever midfielders.
All the best, Daniele. What a career.