New AS Roma manager Daniele De Rossi means business

The 40-year-old De Rossi played 18 seasons with Roma as a midfielder

Daniele De Rossi | AFP Daniele De Rossi | AFP

Daniele De Rossi had often said that he wanted to coach Roma only after he had attained the appropriate experience.

Then came the call from the Giallorossi's American owners, Dan and Ryan Friedkin, after they decided to part ways with Jos Mourinho.

You don't say no to Roma, De Rossi a former Roma captain explained Friday during his presentation as Mourinho's replacement.

It's a little like what happened to (Andrea) Pirlo with Juventus, De Rossi said, recalling how his former Italy teammate was put in charge of the Bianconeri four years ago without any coaching experience. There are men who refuse and there are men who throw themselves in.

The 40-year-old De Rossi played 18 seasons with Roma as a midfielder and won the World Cup with Italy in 2006. He coached SPAL in Serie B for four months last season and was an assistant to Roberto Mancini when Italy won the European Championship in 2021.

"I didn't come back here just to put on the sweatshirt," said De Rossi, who was wearing a sweatshirt with his initials of DDR stitched onto the right side of his chest. It's not just about nostalgia for the past.

"The only reason I would have said no would have been if I thought this was a bad team", De Rossi added. "But, I think this is a strong team. So, we need to show that and that in turn could help me in terms of career development. We'll see in a few months how it turns out."

However, De Rossi did allow that he expected a more gradual path to the Roma job.

Mourinho was let go on Tuesday with Roma languishing in ninth place, two days after a 3-1 loss at AC Milan left the team at risk of missing the Champions League for a sixth straight season.

Roma was also eliminated by Lazio in an Italian Cup derby last week.

"I would be content if we finish in the top four", De Rossi said. It won't be easy to attain, but it's definitely possible.

I don't need to over-analyze the problems, De Rossi added. I'm fortunate in that because I'm a fan of the club I've watched every match. I know this squad better than any other in the world so that reduces the amount of study time needed.

De Rossi's debut will come against relegation-threatened Hellas Verona at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

He signed a six-month contract that expires at the end of the season, amid speculation that Roma will then try to hire a more experienced coach like Antonio Conte.

"I will fight to the death to stay here", De Rossi said. "I'm going to try and earn it on the pitch. That would be a dream for me. Dan and Ryan were very clear about the length of the contract and I said, Fine, you name the salary, but I want a bonus if we qualify for the Champions League."

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