Daniele De Rossi reveals he started his career as a striker and initially “turned down” the chance to play for hometown club Roma.
The Giallorossi icon and Italy midfielder spoke to UEFA’s website about his early days on the way to becoming a World Cup winner.
“When I was a kid I played as a striker, then I was gradually pulled back into a trequartista role, attacking midfielder and eventually placed in front of the defence,” said De Rossi, who can also play as a centre-back for club and country.
“Playing as a striker helped me to understand the movement of centre-forwards, so that I can anticipate all their moves, as well as being able to target the goal when going forward. It remains a very important part of my tactical awareness.”
Naturally, his father Alberto – a Coach in the Roma youth academy – played a crucial part in his career.
“My father helped me without putting pressure or stress on me to get results. In the Roma youth sector I learned the technical qualities that are still useful to this day.”
Incredibly for someone born and raised a Roma supporter, De Rossi reveals he originally turned the club down.
“My experience at my first club Ostia Mare was important. It was already quite a high level there, but I had a lot of fun.
“Roma came to get me when I was nine years old and I didn’t want to go, as I was too happy with my friends in Ostia Mare. Instead I went at 11-12. I still live in the Ostia area and retain special affection for the place.
“My move to the Roma first team was gradual. I remember with great emotion my first day at Roma, the difference between Ostia Mare and this club with its kit, facilities and new boots. It was almost like stepping into a different football world.”