De Rossi looking to end English hoodoo
Daniele De Rossi has never played against England before but he has sour memories of a number of unhappy meetings against English clubs in European competition.
The Roma midfielder will line-up against his hero Steven Gerrard in Sunday's Euro 21012 quarter-final between England and Italy here, hoping to reverse a trend that started back in 2005/06.
That was the year that De Rossi first played against English opposition as his Roma side were eliminated by Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup round of 16 on away goals.
It was the first of four successive years in which Roma would be eliminated from Europe by the English.
The most painful of those was in the following season as Roma took a 2-1 advantage to Old Trafford only to be humiliated 7-1 by Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The next two years saw them fall again to United and then Arsenal.
The only time his Roma got the better of English opposition was in the 2009/10 Europa League when they topped a group containing Fulham, only to lose in the first knock-out round while the Londoners went on to reach the final.
"I've never been lucky against English teams and I've never played against England," moaned De Rossi.
"And then there was that Roma-Liverpool (European Cup) final (in 1984) that as a Roman can never be marginalised in the story of Italy against England.
"But England are one of the five or six historic teams on an international level. It will be great to play them."
Although he has seen little of England's progress in this tournament, De Rossi says he is a big admirer of English football, and in particular the team's captain.
"I've seen little of them as they've always played after us on our night off," he said.
"But they have great players, (Gerrard) has always been my idol. They have young wingers and a coach who's worked in Italy. They're a strong team."
The respect between De Rossi and England is mutual.
When in 2007/08 Roma played Man United, Sir Alex Ferguson was asked by the Francesco Totti-worshipping Roman press which of the Italians' players he would most like to sign.
Ferguson diplomatically praised Totti but then caused near-outrage amongst the local press corps by claiming he would prefer De Rossi, who more recently has been a target for United's bitter city rivals.
"In the past I was sought after from England and not just by Manchester City. There is reciprocal interest.
"English football is fascinating, it's surpassed Italian football, but so too has Spanish football."
Here in Kiev, the Italy fans are expected to be hugely outnumbered by their English counterparts, just as they were in their final group game against Ireland in Poznan.
But De Rossi believes that will make little difference.
"Not everyone can allow themselves to travel in this historic (economic crisis) period.
"Italy is going through a delicate moment from an economic point of view.
"The English travel en masse but on the pitch it will be 11 against 11."