The Italian Almanac

Daniele De Rossi

Italian News - March 21

AS Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi is the toast of Italian soccer after an exemplary gesture of fair play during his side's 2-1 win over Messina Sunday. With the score at 1-0 and the result still in the balance, the 22-year-old Italy star helped a cross into the net with his hand. But, after reflecting on his actions for a few seconds, he then told the referee to disallow the goal.

"De Rossi has shown that, as well as being worthy of the national team as a player, he is also worthy as a man," said Messina midfielder Salvatore Sullo. "He did what should be done in these situations," said Roma coach Luciano Spalletti. "He gave an important message to the soccer world, because the referee had not realized it was handball".

The capital's mayor, Walter Veltroni, reportedly called De Rossi after the game and told him that "your gesture brings honour on Rome and on your team". De Rossi's actions have made such a splash partly because Serie A is more used to footballers doing everything they can to win games, using fair means and foul.

De Rossi himself seemed a little surprised at the commotion. "I didn't think I'd stir up all this interest," he said Monday. "I think it was my duty to make that gesture, for myself, for my team-mates and for my opponents."