World Cup: Italy star Daniele De Rossi keen to showcase positive attributes in Brazil
Italy's Daniele De Rossi wants to prove once and for all that he is not a "thug" when he plays in his third World Cup.
Last Updated: 06/06/14 5:06pm
The Roma midfielder's reputation was tarnished in 2006 when he elbowed United States striker Brian McBride and received a four-match ban.
De Rossi returned to play in the final against France, which saw the Azzurri clinch their fourth World Cup, but admits the incident still haunts him.
"I am ashamed of the elbow incident," De Rossi said to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"However, I'm not a killer, nor a thug, nor envious if someone is better than me."
De Rossi was also left out of Italy's international friendly with Spain earlier this year after breaching Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli's code of ethics.
He was handed a three-match Serie A ban for punching Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi during a league game.
"I don't often react, but when it happens, it's bad," the 30-year-old said. "I'm also sure it will never happen again.
"I missed a call-up to the national team for the code of ethics, but I cannot nor do I want to play the victim.
"I repeat, elbows and punches are not my trademark."
After experiencing an early exit in South Africa four years ago, De Rossi knows Italy must be supremely focused from the start.
They will take on England in their World Cup opener in Manaus on June 14 and will also face Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.
And De Rossi does feel the need to prove himself again.
"In South Africa I didn't do well," he said. "I was burned out as with Roma we had pushed Inter Milan for the scudetto until the final game of the season.
"The good feelings just weren't there.
"We were convinced we were going to progress from the group stages and our minds were already focused on the knock-out phase. However, our legs were way behind."
De Rossi also wants to make sure this World Cup goes well because of what Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo has meant to him in the national team set-up.
He will never forget the reaction of the 35-year-old Pirlo after the elbow incident in 2006.
"When in the World Cup in Germany I was destroyed by the four-match ban, Andrea invited me to have supper with his family and he didn't make me feel like a reject," he said.
"This World Cup is a bit like a goodbye. This will be the last time I will play with Pirlo and I don't want to think about it otherwise I will get emotional."
De Rossi and Italy arrived safely in Rio de Janeiro on Friday and will take on Brazilian club Fluminense in a friendly on Sunday hoping to end seven-game winless run.
The Azzurri will then travel to Manaus on June 13.