Daniele De Rossi’s Brilliant Sportsmanship After Italy Missed Out On The World Cup
Italy are facing the possibility of missing out on a second consecutive World Cup finals, as a frustrating goalless draw with Northern Ireland ensured they missed out on top spot in their qualification group.
Italy finished second behind Switzerland in Group C, which means the reigning European champions will be left to sweat it out in the play-offs in their bid to book a ticket to Qatar.
The Azzurri will hope to do better than 2017, when an aggregate 1-0 play-off defeat to Sweden saw them miss out on a place at the 2018 World Cup.
It was the first time that Italy had failed to take their place at the biggest party in football since 1958, but despite losing his cool on the bench, Daniele De Rossi showed an incredible act of sportsmanship in the aftermath of the defeat.
GiveMeSport recounted the memorable gesture made by the former AS Roma midfielder, as he boarded the team bus and congratulated the Swedish players for their victory, before apologising for the way in which the Italian fans booed their national anthem prior to kick-off.
Sweden and Brentford defender Pontuss Jansson said at the time, in quotes published by Football Italia and GiveMeSport: "He (De Rossi) said well done and apologised for how some of the players behaved in Stockholm, and for how some of the fans booed our national anthem in the return leg.
"The whole atmosphere on the bus was like: 'Wow, did that really happen?'. It was one of the nicest moments for a long time actually, what a damn gentleman."
This was echoed by Sweden manager Janne Andersson, who added: "That's sport at its best - you can brawl with each other out on the pitch, it can be a 'small war', but afterwards you shake each others' hands."
De Rossi is now Italy's assistant coach, and Azzurri fans will hope he does not have to show another magnanimous gesture this time round.
Italy find out their play-off opponents when the draw is made on 26th November.
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