For Daniele De Rossi, Italy's national team is a sort of personal oasis.
It's a squad where he can simply be a highly dependable midfielder and push aside the immense pressure he plays under at his club, Roma.
Born in Rome and bred in Roma's system where his father remains the club's youth coach, De Rossi has long been seen as the successor to Roma great Francesco Totti as the squad's next captain.
That's no sure thing anymore, though. Not after a season to forget.
De Rossi didn't score a single goal - not in Serie A and not in the Italian Cup, where Roma was beaten by city rival Lazio in the final - and often was relegated to the bench.
Speculation is high that De Rossi could depart Roma before next season begins and he has only increased the rumors with his recent comments from the national team camp.
In an interview published in Rome-based sports daily Corriere dello Sport on Tuesday, De Rossi discussed how he has to deal with ''slander...