De Rossi adapting to difficult position switch

De Rossi adapting to difficult position switch

Published Jun. 8, 2012 4:08 p.m. ET

It doesn't seem to matter to Daniele De Rossi what position he plays.

Whether it's an attacking position, a holding midfield spot or now at the heart of Italy's new three-man defense, the Roma stalwart adapts effortlessly. Perhaps that's why he's one of the highest-paid players in Serie A.

Still, switching from midfield to center back for Italy's European Championship opener against defending champion Spain on Sunday could be a challenge.

''As long as you have defenders who are helping you, like (Leonardo) Bonucci and (Giorgio) Chiellini have already shown in training, it's not a problem,'' De Rossi said Friday. ''The problem is that we're facing the strongest squad in the world, so it's going to be difficult.''


Italy coach Cesare Prandelli decided to switch to a three-man defense after Italy struggled in a 3-0 friendly loss to Russia a week ago, with an injury to center back Andrea Barzagli also contributing to the move.

''I'm willing to play wherever the coach decides,'' De Rossi said. ''At 99.9 percent, I'll play (in central defense) the first match. But it's not really center back. I'll serve as a link between the defense and the midfield.

''I've always done it with Roma,'' De Rossi said. ''Sometimes you have to play in positions you're not used to. And if I make a mistake, there's no alibi.''

But as De Rossi pointed out Friday, he's only made one serious mistake in his football career - an elbow that bloodied the face of United States defender Brian McBride at the 2006 World Cup and cost the then-22-year-old De Rossi a four-match ban.

De Rossi returned for the final of the 2006 tournament and scored one of the penalties in the shootout victory over France.

Back then, De Rossi was one of the youngest members of Italy's squad. Now with 72 appearances, he trails only goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (114) and midfielder Andrea Pirlo (83) for seniority.

De Rossi has played his entire club career with Roma, where his father Alberto is the youth squad coach. In February, he signed a five-year contract extension at a reported ?10 million ($12.6 million) per season, making him one of the highest paid players in Serie A.

His versatility is part of what makes him so valuable - and now he's adding yet another position to his arsenal.

''I'm not going to be the best defender in world,'' De Rossi said, ''but who knows, in a few years maybe I could become a defender.''