• Euro 2012

De Rossi: Gerrard is my idol

ESPN staff
June 20, 2012

Italy international Daniele De Rossi has spoken in glowing terms about Steven Gerrard ahead of their battle on Sunday, describing the England captain as his "idol".

Gerrard has put in a series of talismanic performances for England at Euro 2012, allowing Roy Hodgson's men to finish top of Group D and set up a clash with Italy in the quarter-finals.

The Liverpool star has provided the telling pass for three of England's five goals at the tournament so far, setting up Joleon Lescott, Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney with right-wing crosses.

But despite his attacking impact, Gerrard's defensive work has arguably been just as crucial: England have been widely praised for their resilience, with three goals conceded in five matches under Hodgson.

Gerrard has been a key part of that, stationing himself in front of the back four and, alongside Scott Parker, forming a shield for the centre backs - as well as utilising his range of passing to launch counter-attacks, a key strategy for England at the tournament.

Having been captivated by the all-round nature of Gerrard's play, De Rossi will attempt to employ some of those characteristics in his own game.

"Steven Gerrard is my idol. He has been at the pinnacle for ten years," De Rossi said. "You see Gerrard defending and attacking. I would like to be able to play more like that.

"England are very strong and play in an Italian style, also being very strong in defence. Perhaps we'd have preferred to face Ukraine, but this is fine."

De Rossi said he had seen little of England at Euro 2012 but added: "They have young, very strong wingers. It won't be easy. The coach has had a career which also brought him to Italy."

De Rossi has been stationed in the backline for Italy at points during Euro 2012, and it is possible he may have to reprise that role given the news that Giorgio Chiellini, the Juventus centre back, will not play against England.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.