For all his leadership qualities, Daniele De Rossi still can’t shake his tendency to overreact to physical contact.
The Roma midfielder’s slap to the face of Genoa forward Gianluca Lapadula over the weekend was the latest in a long line of undisciplined behavior.
There was the elbow that bloodied the face of United States forward Brian McBride and an ensuing four-game ban during the 2006 World Cup, the elbow aimed at Shakhtar Donetsk defender Darijo Srna in the Champions League that resulted in a three-match ban from UEFA in 2011, and the punch to the face of Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri in the city derby a year later.
Last year, there was a racist insult aimed at Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic and a nasty foul on Porto defender Maxi Pereira in the Champions League playoffs that left Roma with 10 men and unable to qualify for the lucrative competition.
De Rossi once famously recounted how when opponents put their hands on him while tussling inside the area “it makes my blood boil.”
Sunday’s lapse marked the 14th red card of De Rossi’s career with Roma (12) and Italy (2).
Roma was leading Genoa 1-0 and seemingly in control of the match when, in the 69th minute, De Rossi was sent off for slapping Lapadula in the face. The resulting penalty was converted by Lapadula and the match ended 1-1.
Roma dropped seven points behind Serie A leader Napoli and De Rossi was handed a two-match ban.
“We equalized all by ourselves,” Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. “Daniele’s not a kid. He knows what he did.”
Indeed, at 34 De Rossi should be a wily veteran. His steady play in midfield and versatility has been a constant for years both with his hometown club and the national team.
When De Rossi retired from the national team after this month’s World Cup playoff loss to Sweden, he left with 117 appearances _ placing him fourth all time behind Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Paolo Maldini.
De Rossi has played his entire club career with Roma, where his father Alberto coaches the youth team. He took over Roma’s captaincy when Francesco Totti retired at the end of last season.
De Rossi was largely lauded for refusing to come on as a substitute late in the second leg against Sweden, telling the coaching staff that they needed a striker instead to score a goal.
After the playoff loss, De Rossi boarded Sweden’s team bus and apologized for the fans at the San Siro who whistled during Sweden’s national anthem.
Both instances displayed his leadership qualities.
But repeated suspensions have meant that De Rossi has had to sit out 37 matches in his career _ 32 with Roma and five with Italy.
“Everyone has the right to make a mistake,” Totti tweeted after De Rossi’s latest red card. “But nobody can debate what he has done and will do for Roma.”
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