Giuseppe Rossi spoke to the New York Times about his globe-trotting career, injury and World Cup hopes.
The Fiorentina striker was born in Clifton, New Jersey, but moved to Italy to become part of Parma’s youth academy.
“I was 12. I really didn’t think about making a professional move. I didn’t have that knowledge,” explained Rossi.
“The only thing I knew was that I was going to play in Italy with better players. It was tough leaving family and friends, everyday life. But it’s something I wanted to do and my father backed me up. We talked about it. I said let’s try.
“He thought after a couple of months I was going to leave. But I stayed. It was tough. It takes a lot of sacrifice to reach a certain level.”
Playing in Serie A, the Premier League and La Liga, Pepito has found not every League is the same.
“There are three different ways of playing the game in each country. In England, it’s more of a fuel game: high pace, exciting. In Spain, it’s very technical, nice to watch.
“The Italian game is more tactical. You play with your mind, and that’s why it’s harder. Coaches study the game and prepare based on the opponent. They try to take away what you’re good at, not as an individual but as a team.
“In soccer you need tactics, you need to find a balance between offense and defence. Obviously you need a bit of everything, but it’s hard to find those types of teams that can produce at a high pace while also being technical.
“All those aspects go together, and that’s what makes it so beautiful. These different ways of playing and viewing the game, that’s what makes it so nice to be a fan of this game.”
Rossi managed barely six months of regular football for Fiorentina this season before he was ruled out by another knee injury in January.
“When I got injured this time it took a couple of days to get past it. When you dwell on something negative it’s not going to help you. What helps is keeping positive thoughts, keeping your mind fresh and having the right people around you to get past the tough moments.
“After a couple of days I knew that I had come back from injuries before. This injury is not as bad. It takes time to heal, but thank God I didn’t need surgery. That was a big plus because it takes a lot of patience and hard work to come back.
“The worst thing you can do is think that you’re cursed. It can start creating doubts in your mind, that you can never feel whole. You’ll only get distracted if you’re not feeling 100 percent. I always think that it’s going to be fine, I always try to think positive way.”
It has been reported Rossi will be back in action next month and he flew in today to be at the Stadio Franchi for Fiorentina’s Europa League clash with Juventus on Thursday.
“I’ve been happy with my progress each day. I would love to know the exact date, but really can’t. There’s so much work you have to do to get back, you can’t create any distractions with these predictions.”
Cesare Prandelli said he’ll wait till the last possible moment to include Rossi in his World Cup squad, but the player is taking it step by step.
“That has been my goal from the beginning of the season, but it’s not my goal now. What I’m thinking about now are the short-term goals. I can’t think long-term, even a couple of months. I’ve got to do the small things first. I’ve got another couple of weeks to rehab.
“Wearing the captain’s armband for Italy was awesome. I was never a captain before, and to realize that the national team that represents 50 to 60 million people … the feeling of that responsibility was awesome. I’m sure many people would like to have that feeling during their careers.
“I’m fine the way that my career has gone, besides the injuries. I’m happy with decisions I’ve made. I’ve had dreams I wanted to come true since I was a kid. Thanks to my father and family and the work I’ve put in, I’ve been able to pursue them.
“In 2005, when I was 18, Bruce Arena asked me to come to camp and train with the United States team in Scotland if I wanted to be part of it. It was flattering and amazing to get called up, but my dreams were to be a part of the Italian national team. It was how I was brought up. All my family, except me and my sister, were born in Italy.
“Growing up I used to watch the Serie A every Sunday morning. When I thanked them and said no, I knew I was turning down a big national team. But Italy was where I wanted to be. I made my decision, it’s where I love to play.”
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