De Rossi praises Gerrard: He is my idol

The Roma midfielder is well aware of the quality that Roy Hodgson's men possess, while saying that Mario Balotelli needs to start taking responsibility for his actions
Daniele De Rossi has revealed that Italy's Euro 2012 contest against England will give him the opportunity to face his idol, Steven Gerrard.

The Azzurri will tackle the Three Lions on Sunday in their quarter-final match after finishing second in Group C following a 2-0 victory over Republic of Ireland.

And De Rossi thinks that Roy Hodgson's men will pose Italy a great threat, hailing the quality of the England captain.

"Gerrard has always been my idol, he has been playing at a high level for years," De Rossi told reporters at a press conference.

"England are very strong, they have an Italian approach, with a good defence. We would rather face Ukraine, but it is okay."

The 28-year-old has played as a centre-back in two games at the tournament following the fitness problems that have plagued the team's defenders, with coach Cesare Prandelli not having yet made a decision on where the Roma midfielder will be used against England.

"Prandelli trusts me, he showed that by deploying me as a defender," De Rossi added. "He makes me play in different positions, which is something that I like.

"I do not know where I will play against England."

Mario Balotelli could be handed a start on Sunday following his goal against Ireland, and De Rossi believes that the Manchester City striker can play a big role in the match.

"We hope we will do well," De Rossi added. "The important thing is that we cause England some problems, it is the same if it is Balotelli to do it or someone else.

"What matters is to score goals, and Mario can score them. He looks fine to me, but at his age it is normal that he should start to take responsibility and be treated like the others. He is becoming a man now.

"At his age I went to the World Cup in 2006 and elbowed someone [Brian McBride]. It made me grow up."