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Daniele De Rossi in action during the Italy training session on May 23, 2010, in Turin, Italy. ((Claudio Villa/Getty Images) )

Daniele De Rossi

Born: July 24, 1983, in Rome, Italy

Position: Midfielder

Nickname: Capitan Futuro (Captain of the future)

Clubs Played for: Roma fans love to wax quixotic about the many parallels between Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti and the strongest connection between the two Giallorossi (The Yellow-Reds) idols is their long relationship with the Rome giants. De Rossi matured up in Roma's youth system and made his professional debut in 2001. In nearly a decade, Capitan Futuro has played 316 times and scored 39 goals for his beloved club

International career: Not only do the Roma faithful laud De Rossi, but Italians everywhere believe the 26-year-old could be the future captain of the Azzurri. Nevertheless, De Rossi's 52 appearances for Italy have often been filled with equal measures of magic and madness. At the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, De Rossi provided strength in defence and skill in offence from his central position, but he also had the tendency of being over zealous in challenges and easily provoked by clever opponents.  De Rossi's elbow across Brian McBride's face in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup earned him a four-match ban. The midfielder returned to feature in the final and scored a penalty in the shootout.

Why is he so special? De Rossi exudes poise, confidence and prudence — he is a perceptive runner, a clever passer and a clean striker of the ball. Even when he picks up the odd red card, De Rossi still exemplifies the kind of grit and tenacity expected of a captain. 

His most famous moment: Although it was helped by a deflection off of Thierry Henry's left foot, De Rossi's 30-yard free kick gave Italy a comfortable 2-0 lead in their Euro 2008 group game against France.

He said it: "It is the blackest page of my career [the McBride elbow], something I will carry with me also when I retire .... But the error caused me to grow up. Now I accept the criticisms that came my way at that time with more serenity."

What they're saying about him: "Daniel is not only a great footballer but also a champion." — Claudio Ranieri, Roma manager.   

Here is an interesting fact: Immediately after he elbowed McBride, De Rossi sent a letter of apology to FIFA and personally apologized to McBride. McBride then called De Rossi a classy player.