Italy star Daniele De Rossi says England captain Steve Gerrard is his 'idol' as the two sides prepare to go head-to-head in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
De Rossi revealed he dreamt of playing more like Gerrard, who has shone for the Three Lions during Euro 2012.
Roma vice-captain De Rossi started the tournament in a three-man defence for Italy but reverted to his favoured midfield position in Monday's decisive Group C win over Republic of Ireland.
The 28-year-old admitted he preferred an anchor role and revealed he would attempt to model his game on that of Gerrard.
He said: "Steven Gerrard has always been my idol. Since 10 years ago, he is among the best in the world.
"You see Gerrard defending and attacking here and there. I would like to be able to play more like that."
De Rossi, who admitted he had yet to see England at Euro 2012, also described Gerrard as their "symbol".
He added: "They have other very good players playing on the flanks and it's a really compact team.
"They have a manager who has been managing in Italy as well, so they know how to play defensively and in attack."
The Italian insists he does not view the Azzurri as favourites for Sunday's quarter-final, adding: "England is one of the five or six best teams in history.
"I don't think we are favourites. English football has surpassed Italian in recent years."
De Rossi believes Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who scored his first goal of the tournament against Republic of Ireland in Italy's final group game, could be a threat against England.
"Mario can potentially harm England," he said. "He is 22 years old, he is old enough and he must take his responsibility, regardless of how he is treated."