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    De Rossi: “Any coach would dream of having these players”

    Roma produced a scintillating display to beat Brighton 4-0 in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16. This is what Daniele De Rossi had to say after the game...

    How have you managed to achieve all of this in 50 days?

    “It's embarrassing to be asked that question. Every team, even the very best, has highs and lows during the season. I haven't done anything out of this world. It's just that everything has fallen into place and is going the right way. I'm very happy.

    “I said this to the lads on my first day and I'll never tire of repeating it: they're fantastic players. They're winning the games they're supposed to win. They're scoring goals because they are top quality going forward. We have players that any coach and any club would dream of having.

    “We have a great team and we're winning games. There's nothing special in what I'm doing. I try to coach them and push them hard in training because I'm convinced you need excellent fitness levels to play this type of football – any type of football in this day and age, for that matter. You have to put in lots of legwork.

    “I treat them as human beings and they're responding with these amazing performances.”

    You say it's nothing special but we've seen lots of great things from your team – a lesson in modern football. Was this not a great evening?

    “I'm happy and I'm not going to play down the importance of this victory, how happy I am or how well the lads played. I saw a lot of things I liked today. And I think we can improve a lot of other things.

    “We feel comfortable when we sit a bit deeper because they've got that in their DNA. In the second half we needed to push up again a bit better, although with this set-up we were able to hurt Brighton when they broke forward, apart from in the last few minutes.

    “I'm pleased with way we played and stayed focused. I gave them a bit of a hard time yesterday. We spent longer preparing for this than other games because we were playing a team that's different to many others, and a coach who is different to nearly everyone else. I love him, though not everyone does.

    “When you play against a team like this, with a coach of Roberto [De Zerbi]'s ability, you realise how good he is because you spend twice as long preparing for it.”

    If I were you, I'd leave my phone on tonight because I think the owners might call you to offer you a new contract after a night like this.

    “You behave now! A night like this shouldn't be spoiled with talk that's got nothing to do with it. We should just enjoy the moment.”

    It was only a quip.

    “I know, but I know you lot are going to start now. I know how things work in this city. And frankly it's the last of my thoughts. I'm delighted. I'm doing a job I love, in a place I love, with a group of players who are giving me the sort of success I didn't dream of achieving in such a short time.

    “But then you look at the fixture list and you see that in two days' time we have another match against another fantastic team, another special coach. Then next week we have to go to their place. If we go there thinking the job is done, they'll turn the tie around.”

    When you were preparing for this game, where did you think you could hurt Brighton? The left flank from what I could see – two of the goals came from there. Is that what you prepared or did the win come through the team's general play?

    “It''s going to sound like I'm playing the hotshot now but yesterday I said that's where we could win the game. Not because the players are better or worse but because there was a physical difference between [Leo] Spinazzola and [Facundo] Buonanotte and we needed to exploit that, regardless of who was playing.

    “They were players with different stamina levels and the condition Spina has been in lately made me think that was an area of the pitch we might be able to score from, where we could find space in behind, given that they often play man for man.”

    Your team was bold building out from the back too. They carried out the tasks you gave them. How have you managed to turn a passive team like Roma, without the ball, into such an aggressive, bold team?

    “I think you prepare for games like this by respecting your opponent. The more I respect an opponent and the more I try to stop them from playing the way they want. Roberto's teams are thinking teams when they're in possession, so you have to decide whether to wait for them on your goal line or not give them time to think.

    “The scoreline might suggest I came up with a masterpiece but the result isn't a true reflection of the game. They deserved a bit more. Our goalkeeper did well. We gave away a few chances, as you'd expect against a team like this.

    “My players were almost perfect. I won't say perfect because there's no such thing as perfect and they'd stop working and trying to improve. But they were fantastic closing down, fantastic with the effort they put in, because I don't know how much off-the-ball running [Paulo] Dybala and [Romelu] Lukaku were used to. They worked their socks off and that's what I want to see. I saw Dybala making sliding tackles left, right and centre. If you don't have that sort of attitude in games like this, you can end up getting stuffed. However, as I said, I don't think we deserved quite this margin.”