Roma stalwart De Rossi reflects on 'wrong' career choices

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Missing the chance to play in the Premier League or in a Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid is a regret for the Italy international

Daniele De Rossi partly regrets staying at Roma for his entire career due to the football and life experiences he has missed out on, but claims he could never bring himself to leave the Stadio Olimpico.

De Rossi, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in July, is a one-club man who has been playing for Roma since 2001.

His contract is set to expire at the end of the season, with Antonio Conte's Chelsea reportedly interested in signing him, despite his advancing years.

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The Italy international is yet to confirm his future plans but revealed in an interview with Undici magazine how he wishes he had taken the chance to leave Roma, as much as it would have hurt him to depart the Serie A side.

"[My contract] is something that sooner or later I will have to face with the club, but I am not thinking about it now and I've decided not to talk about it either," Rome-born De Rossi said. 

"I have decided that I want to continue playing for a while. That is without doubt, 100 per cent. I might have considered it [retirement] if I kept getting injured the way I did last year, taken time out to travel the world with my family.

"My only regret about staying at Roma is that I never got to experience the atmosphere in other countries, such as in England or Spain, outside the stadiums. I would have liked to know how to live elsewhere."

De Rossi suggested that while he had plenty of opportunities to move on from Roma, it would have been too painful to do so because of his love for the club.

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"I was always fully aware that my career choices were 'wrong' on a professional level," De Rossi said. "They were read as choices of great altruism, for the love for the shirt and the fans, but that is only part of it.

"The other side is that my choice was very egotistical, because I needed to play for Roma. I get physical and emotional pleasure playing with this jersey on my back. The years when I was about to leave, I'd step on to the field with tears in my eyes. Looking around and thinking it might be my last match at the Olimpico... Those moments made me realise I couldn't live without Roma.

"It would have hurt me more than missing out on a Real Madrid-Barcelona experience, or playing in England's most beautiful stadiums. At least that's how I view it. At the age of 33, I have reached the calm realisation that I'm well aware I haven't won or travelled that much."

A pair of Coppa Italia titles and a sole Supercoppa triumph are De Rossi's only Roma honours, the club having finished second seven times in Serie A during his career, but the midfielder won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, an achievement which De Rossi said opened up a raft of new opportunities.

"It's paradoxical because I won [the World Cup] at the age of 22," De Rossi added ahead of Sunday's derby against Lazio. "That means setting you up for a great future and expectations around you.

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"First the European Under-21 Championship, then the bronze medal at the Olympics and boom, World Cup winner. Maybe that was my real problem, that I didn't continue winning. At that moment, my telephone was exploding with calls, every day a new club who wanted me.

"They kept saying this coach wanted to talk to me, this president was ready to sign a blank cheque. It was wonderful, but at the end of the day I was always aware leaving Roma would make me feel terrible. 

"Maybe I could have played in a Champions League final, or Real Madrid-Barcelona. I always said I wanted to play for Boca Juniors, to be on the field at the Bombonera for Boca-River Plate. It's the most beautiful stadium in the world."