The next few days will be an anxious time for international players across the globe.
FIFA dictates that the final 23-man rosters for all of the national teams competing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil must be submitted by June 2. For players such as Italian international Giuesppe Rossi, that means one more game to impress the coach before the finally cuts are made.
Fans of American soccer know all about Rossi. The New Jersey native divides opinion after snubbing the country of his birth for the nation of his heritage, Italy. Moving to Italy at the age of 12 to pursue his dream of playing professional soccer, he has played for Parma, Manchester United, Villarreal and Fiorentina. So that is fair enough, I suppose.
Your feelings about Rossi aside, the predatory striker has spent most of the last four months on the sidelines after suffering yet another knee injury. Rossi, 27, has been plagued by injuries since 2011 when he tore his ACL but this season he was on fire for La Viola as he led Serie A in goals scored after racking up 14 by January. Rossi managed to return to fitness from his MCL sprain and played three times for Fiorentina at the end of the season. This Saturday Italy face Ireland in their final friendly before head coach Cesare Prandelli names his final squad for the tournament. Rossi will be hoping to make one last impression as he sits behind the likes of Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano, Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci in the pecking order.
The Italian-American does have one thing on his side: Prandelli is obviously a big fan. Take a look at what he told reporters as he makes his mind up on the 23 he will take to Brazil.
“He [Rossi] is a talent with great quality, one of the best in Italy,” Prandelli said. “He is determined, hungry and made a thousand sacrifices to be here in the running for the World Cup. He is the proof that champions need to have character and he can set the example for everyone. Clearly, he has to be in good shape and that’s what we want to see. His determination, his desire to make all the sacrifices to be here is a demonstration that even the great players have to put in effort. This is a good lesson for the whole group.”
Rossi has never been to a World Cup, as he was cut at the final stage by Marcelo Lippi before the 2010 tournament and his career was in its infancy when the Italians won the World Cup in 2006. He also missed the 2012 European Championships (where Italy lost in the final) through injury.
It could be Rossi’s last chance to play in a showpiece event for Italy. Does anyone begrudge the forward from Teaneck, NJ the chance to play on the biggest stage?