“Putting on the Roma jersey is like wearing a suit of armour,” said Daniele De Rossi. “I get goosebumps every time I pull it on.”
Ahead of Wednesday evening’s Champions League Round of 16 with Shakhtar Donetsk, the captain spoke to UEFA.com.
“We’ll play over 180 minutes against an incredible side that always finds a way to renovate themselves,” said the midfielder.
“Shakhtar keep selling their best players and finding others just as good, often from Brazil, to create new eras. They already eliminated us once, many years ago. I think they are underestimated, by a lot, in the media.
“Don’t forget, Shakhtar eliminated Napoli, who are 15 or 16 points above us in the Serie A table. At the same time, I believe we can have our say.
“There are two or three sides in the Champions League where we’d definitely be beaten before we even began, but Shakhtar is not one of them.
“The Champions League is special because it’s the biggest club competition in the world and in general second only to the World Cup. There’s this extra focus when you get past the group phase and the whole world seems to be watching you.
“Unfortunately, we’ve never gone past the quarter-finals, but reaching the top eight sides in Europe is already a good result. So much of it after that has to do with the draw. I think if Antonio Conte’s Juventus hadn’t been paired with Bayern Munich, they would’ve gone all the way.
“The most memorable nights were against Real Madrid and Lyon, those nights you remember for your whole life. At that time, they seemed almost unbeatable, and yet we manage to do something incredible. We were a young side, full of Italians, playing beautiful football and we twice reached the top eight in Europe.”
De Rossi took over the captain’s armband from Francesco Totti, but for him it’s still all about the shirt.
“I never feel indifferent when wearing the Roma jersey. I get goosebumps every time when I pull it on. I take it off the hanger in the locker room. It’s the last thing I do before leaving the locker room.
“Putting on the jersey is like wearing a suit of armour. It doesn’t always result in winning the battle, but it’s how I feel.”