Daniele De Rossi says that Mario Balotelli is anything but someone who causes trouble in Italy’s dressing room.
The Roma midfielder, who is in line to win his 100th cap with the Azzurri on Sunday against Croatia, has talked about his relationship with the Liverpool striker for the first time since the elimination at the World Cup.
After the defeat against Uruguay in Brazil, De Rossi had said that Italy needed ‘real men and not Panini stickers’, in comments widely seen as critical of Balotelli.
However, the 31-year-old has today explained that his words were said in the heat of the moment.
“He’s not the kind of guy who causes problems in the dressing room,” De Rossi has told media in his Press conference in Coverciano today.
“He might be exuberant and sometimes go about his business in a particular way, but fundamentally he’s good natured.
“After the World Cup I didn’t refer to anyone in particular – what I meant was that we needed real men to begin again and with Mario there is a good rapport.”
De Rossi also expressed his viewpoint about Antonio Conte, who was rumoured to have called Balotelli just for sponsorship reasons, but who also recently admitted that the Roma midfielder was on his wish list when he was Coach at Juventus.
“It’s difficult that somebody can address Conte on calling up Balotelli or not.
“I was proud to hear that because I’ve always held Antonio Conte in high esteem and it’s pleasant to hear him say that.
“Obviously staying in Rome left me with no regrets but in any case I’ve been proud to hear that.”
Finally, De Rossi was asked to comment on his 100th appearance in an Italy shirt when he’ll take the field on Sunday night against Croatia.
“For me it’s incredible to reach the 100-cap mark with Italy shirt – it’s a honour I’ll keep in my heart until the end of my career.
“But I’d like a youngster to overtake me [in the all-time list]. Talking of which, I am sure that Alessio Romagnoli will surpass me in terms of caps with Italy – he’ll become an absolute champion.”
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