"So how does a kid who grew up in New Jersey develop such a bond to Italy? His parents, Fernando and Cleonilda, were both Italian immigrants who established their lives in the United States as educators. Cleonilda is still a teacher at Clifton High School while Fernando, the legendary coach who turned Clifton into a perennial power, joined his son in Europe to help oversee his career."Source: The Herald News, 15 January 2008 by Ives Galarcep.
Please read the excellent article by Mr. Galarcep. It showed balance, which is something that few in the US soccer community can exhibit about this provocative topic. He has followed the career of Giuseppe from a young age, and was also acquainted with Rossi Sr.
The Bond of Blood and Passion
The bond is through blood, along with a passion for a sport that is not separated by an ocean or a nationality. He grew up here, but being Italian is more than a name or locality. I should know. I have relatives in Argentina, Australia, and the motherland itself. Some that I never knew existed until a few years ago. We found each other due to our common heritage, along with a passion for soccer.
"Blue is the color, football is the game". As they chant from the terraces of Stamford Bridge for Chelsea.
In this case, Azzurri blue runs through the veins of young Rossi. Marcello Lippi called him, "A born footballer."
Others have not been so complimentary, and have called him a mercenary or un-American. But those same voices did not ask or expect Freddy Adu to play for the Black Stars of Ghana. Rossi said no to both Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley, respectively. Those rejections were not well received by the US Soccer community. Rossi is as American as the rest of us. But he has a special gift that perhaps was better nurtured elsewhere. Which is not an indictment on soccer in this country, but a reality of the situation in this somewhat special case.
Rossi was born to play for the Azzurri. As the great Italian manager, Vittorio Pozzo, said when questioned about drafting in "oriundi" (South Americans of Italian heritage) during the 1930s:
"If they can die for Italy, they can play for Italy."
His Thoughts Before His First Call-up
Here were his thoughts before his first game in a senior Azzurri shirt a month ago:
"Ciao ragazzi, sono passate 2 ore e adesso lo posso dire ufficialmente: andrò in Nazionale!
La Nazionale dei Campioni del Mondo, quella che ho sempre sognato....è stupendo!
Voglio condividere questa gioia grande con voi che mi seguite da tempo e che siete i miei tifosi da sempre; spero di onorare questa convocazione e la maglia azzurra nel modo migliore possibile, ma quello che prometto, come sempre è il mio massimo impegno."
"Hello guys, two hours have passed and now I can officially say: I will be going into the National Team!
The World Championship Team, the one that I have always dreamed of... it is stupendous!
I would like to share this great joy with you who have followed me for a long time and will always be my fans. I hope to honor this call-up and the blue shirt in the best possible fashion, but what I promise is that I will always give my best effort."