Rule out Italy at your peril, warned Daniel De Rossi ahead of the upcoming Euro 2016 in France.
The Roma great admitted that Italy are nowhere near favourites to take out the showpiece European tournament which features home nation France, world champions Germany and the ever-present threat of two-time defending winners Spain, but De Rossi said his team still have the potential to surprise everyone.
The 2012 Euros runners-ups face a tough group consisting of Belgium, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland, but De Rossi said the influence of Antonio Conte – a serial winner as Juventus coach before taking on the Italy job – could prove a telling factor.
“He strikes the right chord, he knows how to motivate you,” he told reporters.
“We don’t start as favourites and we’re aware of that, but we’re proud players and potentially we can beat anyone.
“There were years at Roma where I experienced a similar situation.”
The 2006 World Cup winner did admit, however, that his side would miss the absence of Andrea Pirlo, who was overlooked by Conte after he traded European football for MLS in the United States with New York City, while opening the door on a potential move to America himself.
“I miss him [Pirlo] as a player and a team-mate,” De Rossi said.
“I respect his choice, and he was made aware of the consequences. I don’t know [if I’ll play in the US] but I’d like to experience it.
“If I leave Roma, I wouldn’t join AC Milan, Inter or Juventus. I’d rather be emotionally close to Roma.
“However, I’ll be at Roma next year, and after that we’ll see.”
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