Daniele De Rossi apparently had the same thoughts as just about everyone other than Italy’s coaching staff during the second half of the Azzurri’s ill-fated World Cup playoff second leg with Sweden at the San Siro on Monday night – “What about Insigne?”
Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne has been one of Serie A’s most in form strikers as of late, yet he has featured very little for his national side under the guidance of coach Gian Piero Ventura.
However, with Italy a goal down on aggregate due to a deflected strike from Jakob Johansson in the 61st minute of the first leg in Stockholm on Friday and time ticking away, it seemed inconceivable that Ventura would ignore Insigne’s presence on the bench.
But he did, much to the utter bemusement of folks on Twitter.
What is Ventura doing? Why is Insigne not on the pitch?
— John Solano (@Solano_56) November 13, 2017
No Insigne is spectacularly puzzling
— Chris Winterburn (@cmwinterburn) November 13, 2017
Maybe Insigne is in fact just a collective figment of our imagination and doesn’t really exist?
— Mike L. Goodman (@TheM_L_G) November 13, 2017
still no Insigne….just incredible
— Tarek Khatib (@ADP1113) November 13, 2017
Let’s bring on Bernardeschi (who barely sees the pitch for Juventus) over Insigne (a Napoli regular and Italy’s most creative talent).#Ventura
— Matthew Santangelo (@Matt_Santangelo) November 13, 2017
When he was asked to warm up during the second half for a potential attempt at heroics, De Rossi became very animated. In a moment caught by television cameras, De Rossi reportedly said, “Why the hell should I go on? We don’t need to draw, we need to win!” The fiery defensive midfielder also appeared to point in the direction of Insigne at one point.
— nonleggerlo (@nonleggerlo) November 13, 2017
After the game, De Rossi revealed exactly what he was thinking in that moment.
“We have this tendency to warm up three at a time, then after five minutes we change and another three go,” the 36-year-old told Italy’s Rai Sport(via The Independent). “I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up. I pointed to Insigne too.”
“It wasn’t up to me whether it was a tactical issue and the coach is a lovely guy, so I’m sorry if I offended anyone. At the time I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead.”
De Rossi also announced his international retirement post-match, along with longtime Italian teammates Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli.
Reports emerged in the immediate aftermath of the game that the heavily criticized Ventura had resigned, but the 69-year-old subsequently denied that he intended to step down.