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Goal.com's countdown to the greatest player of 2008 continues with the majestic Roma and Italy midfielder, Daniele De Rossi. A superb year at both club and international level, ruined by Ibra and Iker…

50 - Ashley Young - Aston Villa, Premier League - Score: 1109
49 - Javier Zanetti - Internazionale, Serie A - Score: 1104
48 - Daniel Guiza - Fenerbahçe, Super Lig - Score: 1089
47 - Juninho Pernambucano - Olympique Lyonnais, Ligue 1 - Score: 1083
46 - Juan Román Riquelme - Boca Juniors, Argentine Apertura - Score: 1077
45 - Luca Toni - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1064
44 - David Silva - Valencia, Primera Division - Score: 1060
42 (T) - Thierry Henry - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
42 (T) - Daniel Alves - Sevilla, Primera Division / Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1040
41 - Antonio Cassano - Sampdoria, Serie A - Score: 1028
40 - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - Ajax Amsterdam, Eredivisie / Real Madrid, Primera Division - Score: 1027
39 - Ricardo Carvalho - Chelsea, Premier Division - Score: 1025
38 - Samuel Eto'o - Barcelona, Primera Division - Score: 1017
37 - Philipp Lahm - FC Bayern, Bundesliga - Score: 1009
36 - Javier Mascherano - Liverpool, Premier League - Score: 1008
35 - Julio Cesar - Internazionale, Serie A - Score 1000
34 - Robinho - Real Madrid, Primera Division / Manchester City, Premier League - Score: 970
33 - Diego - Werder Bremen, Bundesliga - Score: 955
32 - Carles Puyol - FC Barcelona, La Primera División - Score: 915
 
30 – Daniele De Rossi - Roma, Serie A - Score: 878
 
Captain Future
 
He is part of a triad who set Roma fans’ hearts racing, the three musketeers of the Maggica. He is Daniele De Rossi, but for the Lupacchiotti he is simply known as ‘Captain Future’.
 
Along with Francesco Totti and Alberto Aquilani, he is the pride of the entire Stadio Olimpico crowd, because he is a Giallorosso through and through, and he is undeniably destined to lead the Roman troops one day, taking over the armband from Totti.
 
Hopefully, this day is still far away, but he is already learning the ropes and this past year was pivotal, as the Pupone’s injury troubles often deprived Luciano Spalletti’ side of their shining light and De Rossi was never afraid to step up and carry the team on his shoulders.
 
Maybe he went a little too far in the game with Milan at the San Siro, when he ‘borrowed’ the renowned cucchiaio from his buddy Francesco, but it turned into a major fiasco as the ball flew over the bar.
 
Nonetheless, if the Lupi came within minutes of bringing the Scudetto back to the capital, most of the credit goes to De Rossi and his determination, just like when he propelled his side to an incredible 3-2 victory over Genoa last April by coolly converting the decisive spot-kick ten minutes from time.
 
Or when he curled a magnificent free-kick past Atalanta ‘keeper Ferdinando Coppola on the penultimate day of the season to make sure that the title race would go down to the wire.   
 
But we all know how the last mile of the run turned into a nightmare for Roma, when Inter star Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced two moments of  magic in Parma to crush the Lupi’s dreams.
 
It was the second major disappointment of the campaign, as Roma were knocked out of the Champions League by eventual winners Manchester United in April, with De Rossi squandering a marvellous chance to re-open the tie in the return leg at Old Trafford, when he blasted a penalty over the bar with the game still poised at 0-0.

From Hero To Villain… To Hero Again
 
But the midfield maestro had high hopes of making up for the disappointing end to the club season, on the international stage. He was part of the Italian national side who travelled to the European Championships in Austria and Switzerland aiming to emulate France by lifting the continental trophy after hoisting the 2006 World Cup in Berlin.
 
The dismal 3-0 defeat to Holland in the opening game of the tournament was followed by a dramatic draw with Romania, which set the stage for a thrilling play-off against Les Bleus, who were eager to get revenge for the penalty shoot-out loss in Germany.
 
De Rossi’s performance was top-notch. He ruled the midfield from start to finish and seemed almost ubiquitous at the Letzigrund Stadium, registering an impressive 82 per cent pass-completion rate and putting the game to bed with a free-kick from distance, albeit with a massive deflection off Thierry Henry’s foot.
 
Too bad that all the plaudits that poured in for De Rossi were short-lived, as the Azzurri crashed out of the competition at the hands of Spain on penalties in the quarterfinals. Daniele was the one who set Roberto Donadoni’s side on the road home, as Real Madrid custodian Iker Casillas painfully saved his spot-kick.
 
There would be no repeat of 2006's wild celebrations at the Circo Massimo in Rome, but the Giallorossi No 16 brilliantly managed to redeem himself in September during the second qualifying game for the 2010 World Cup.
 
After scraping past minnows Cyprus, the new-look Azzurri led by Marcello Lippi were expected to cruise past Georgia at the Stadio Friuli in Udine.
 
Once again it was a sub-par showing from the Nazionale, but it turned into a memorable night for De Rossi, who bagged his first brace at international level.
 
He opened the scoring with an outstanding left-footed screamer from 30 yards, which was undoubtedly his best goal of the year, before sealing the game with a clever flick two minutes from time.
 
However, he has not particularly excelled so far this season, as Roma have endured a stuttering start, particularly on the domestic front.
 
But the eight-game winning streak in all competitions and the passage to the last 16 of the Champions League are positive signs. And you can bet that Captain Future will step up a gear when it matters and go the extra mile to help Roma make up for lost ground in Serie A - and, most importantly, to play the final of Europe’s premier club competition in front of his adoring fans next May.
 
Team Prizes:
 
Supercoppa Italiana 2007/08
 
Coppa Italia 2007/08
 
Individual Accolades:

None
 
 
Vince Masiello, Goal.com

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