A Cultured Midfielder: Inside the mind of Daniele De Rossi

Despite being surrounded by football his entire life, Daniele De Rossi is not your typical footballer.

Always reading a novel or listening to music, the midfielder is not scared to venture off the beaten path when he travels and is just as comfortable talking about classic films as he is discussing the game that he’s made his own over the last 15 years.

But what are the songs, films, bands, places and heroes that have shaped the Roma captain culturally?

Take a trip inside Daniele De Rossi’s head and find out…

My three favourite albums...

‘Babel’ by Mumford and Sons

“Mumford and Sons are one of my favourite groups. I started liking them a few years ago. My partner and I both love them and they're important to us because they started to get big just when we were getting together. We often listen to ‘Babel’ together. It means a lot to us.”

‘Parachutes’ by Coldplay

“Sometimes I don’t listen to this record for ages – too long - but when I put it on, whether it’s on my headphones, in the car or at home, I know it’ll always be one of my favourites. ‘Parachutes’ never lets you down.”

A selection of Lucio Battisti hits

“In this case, I’d rather not pick a particular album, because we’re talking about a national treasure here. As an Italian, I can’t not put Battisti in this list. He revolutionised Italian music and produced several wonderful records. He wrote some unique songs that are part of the history of our country.”

My three favourite movies…

Slumdog Millionaire 

“I’ve seen it in basically every language. Many times in many different parts of the world. It’s definitely one of my favourites.”

The Untouchables

“I love this genre and it really is a cult film. I could have mentioned ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Goodfellas’. I’ve chosen ‘The Untouchables’ because I like it as much as the others and it’s got a thrilling plot.”

Shawshank Redemption

“I think everyone – when they witness a miscarriage of justice – becomes engrossed in a story where the person, in one way or another, manages to achieve their sense of justice.”

My three favourite books...

'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts

“This is my favourite book of all time. It’s the story of a criminal who escapes from Australia and manages to get to India, where the plot unfolds. It’s an autobiography, but I don’t know how much of it has been romanticised. It’s a masterpiece and makes you want to travel to India the very next day.”

'Open' by Andre Agassi

“The Agassi biography is a real classic and it’s renowned all over the world. The biographer, J. R. Moehringer, is phenomenal. You read two lines and you know you have a masterpiece on your hands. The first three words are 'I hate tennis' – genius. As a footballer who loves sport, you can understand why Agassi would say something like that – at times, or even just for a second, we too hate football for one reason or another.” 

'The Power of the Dog' by Don Winslow

“Having watched Narcos, I chose to read a book from the same genre. In the book, Don Winslow describes the drug trafficking war in Mexico. It reads as more of a real-life story than a novel. I couldn’t put The Power of the Dog down and then I read the sequel, The Cartel, all in the space of three days. He, however, wrote them over ten years and I find that really intriguing.”

Three people I would like to meet...

Alex Zanardi

“I’ve actually met him once but I’d like to get to know him better. He’s a brilliant, friendly guy. He had to deal with a massive accident but he came through it in a way that few others would be able to. I love the sheer class he’s shown throughout it all.”

Ennio Morricone

“I’ll have to make another exception here: I’ve met the maestro many times and, on one occasion, he gave me a bottle of wine, telling me 'when we win the Scudetto we’ll drink it together.' I’d love to have that dinner with him, firstly because he’s a genius and secondly… well, that alone is enough!”

Nikko Hurtado

“I discovered Nikko Hurtado’s tattoos on Instagram. I love tattoos in general but Hurtado – a tattoo artist from California – is a genius. I’d love to meet him one day and have him give me a tattoo, just like Steve Butcher, another American legend in the field."

My three favourite cities I've visited... 

New York

“I’m going to have to make an obvious choice but I think New York is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. When you live in Rome it’s not often you find places that measure up to Rome, but I find the culture and lifestyle in New York really exciting. In the future it might be somewhere I’d like to spend more time. I think perhaps it fascinates me so much because it’s the total opposite of Rome.”

Glasgow

“I’ll put Glasgow in my top three as a representative of the Celtic culture, which I love. I went there with the Italian national team. Even though I was only there for a short while – and only caught a few glimpses of the city as we travelled from hotel to stadium – it really left a mark on me. I’d love to go back there to experience more of it.”

Istanbul

“I visited Istanbul as a tourist and had four days to explore on my own terms. It’s absolutely fascinating on every level. There’s a different culture, amazing architecture and lots of history.”

My three favourite bands...

Oasis

“They’re the band from my teenage years. I grew up listening to them and I know all their songs off by heart. I liked those guys, they were real characters. They weren’t always conventional or very easily approachable but I really liked the stereotype they represented – rock stars off their heads.

"There was a lot of talk about me moving to Manchester City a few years ago but I’ve never wanted to leave Rome. What excited me the most about that prospect, however, was the fact that I could have met the Gallagher brothers.”

The Rolling Stones

“They’re obviously not from my era – in fact they’re closer to my parents’ time – but some musical geniuses never get old. I got into them over time and then I fell in love with them. I went to see one of their gigs in London. There were men and women of all ages and they were absolutely loving it. My wife and I had a blast. At 70, they danced and sang for three hours as if they were 20.” 

Coldplay

“I started to like them a bit after Oasis and they’re another group that change your life. I saw them at London’s Royal Albert Hall, a really prestigious venue with fabulous acoustics. It was an incredible night, a couple of years back. They were fantastic. Outstanding.”

My three favourite non-Roma footballers...

Roy Keane

“In my opinion, the legendary Manchester United captain needs no introduction. He’s my all-time idol. Besides Gaia (my daughter, who was born on the 16th), I wear 16 because of him. He’s the only person in the world I’ve asked for a photo, two years ago. I was too embarrassed with Maradona but I couldn’t resist with him.”

Roberto Baggio

“For us Italians he’s a real legend. When I was little, I was fascinated by his style. Italia '90 and USA '94 were my first big football memories. He was amazing at both and inspired us. He was a wonderful player and is a delightful man. I also like the fact that he’s not that involved in football and that he’s focusing on living his life. That makes him an even more interesting person.”

Eric Cantona

“I was a striker growing up and he was the epitome of a bad boy genius. He had character, charisma and a touch of aggressiveness. All attributes which – despite the fact that he occasionally went a little overboard – if managed well are crucial for a footballer. He really entertained me and was another of my great heroes.”

My three favourite TV series...

Breaking Bad

“It’s a surreal storyline that grips you from the first episode. It might be one of the best TV series ever created. It’s well written and the acting is good. I watched them one after another. Sara was pregnant with Olivia, we weren’t going out much and so we’d kick back and watch three or four episodes straight. We finished it pretty quickly. It has you constantly on the edge of your seat. The transformation of the main character grips you and surprises you one episode at a time.”

The Sopranos

“It was a game changer if you ask me. It was a historic series. It goes without saying. James Gandolfini, who played the lead, was one of my heroes and I’m really sad that he died, what’s more in Rome. It was one of the first shows I got into. I started watching it when I was young, then I caught up on the rest a few years later when I was all grown up. Absolutely brilliant.”

Sons of Anarchy

“This is the series I’m most into at the moment. Even though it’s very violent and risqué, there’s a story behind it. This gang, who are occasionally inhuman and vicious, become a family and their relationship is similar to what happens to us players.”

My three favourite songs...

'Not with Haste' by ​Mumford and Sons

“Like I said before, as well as being a great song, it reminds me of my partner and when we became a couple. There’s no way I could leave it out.”

'Forever Young'  by Audra Mae from 'Sons of Anarchy' soundtrack

“I’m absolutely crazy about Sons of Anarchy, the TV series. I’m always listening to the soundtrack and this song is on it. It’s got nothing to do with the 1980s classic 'Forever Young', apart from the title. It’s a lullaby and really reminds me of my daughters. I’ve been listening to it a lot recently. It starts off with a single voice singing the tune and gets you straight away.”

'Offend in Every Way' by The White Stripes

“This is my pre-match song. Sometimes I listen to music on the team bus before a game and I choose this track if I want to get up for it. It’s an oldie but it still gets me going.”

My three favourite non-footballing heroes...

Alex Zanardi

“I know I’ve already had Zanardi but I can’t not include him as one of my heroes. I think he’s a great example for anyone who’s suffering or has a disability. He’s a winner on every level.”

Gianmarco Pozzecco

“He was always very likeable and did the country proud at basketball. I’ve never met him but what struck me about him was how brilliant and passionate he was. You could see that when he was a coach too. He certainly wasn’t someone to sit on the bench and watch the game.”

Michael Jordan

“I’m a massive basketball fan and although there are loads of players I love, Michael Jordan is the one that’s really stayed with me. He revolutionised the sport and it’s impossible not to love him. I was a kid when he was at the peak of his powers. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

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