Giuseppe Rossi grateful for support
Injured Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi is targeting a return in three months to help Fiorentina qualify for the Champions League before partnering Mario Balotelli for Italy at the World Cup.
• Horncastle: Rossi should look to Baggio for inspiration
Rossi, 27, is one month in to his recovery from the latest knee injury to interrupt his career, but he is desperate to get back to repay both his club and country for the faith they have shown in him.
The striker joined the Viola from Villarreal just over a year ago, even though he was unable to make his debut for over five months as he continued his recovery from a third knee operation.
This season, though, Rossi has scored 14 goals in 18 matches and still leads the Serie A scoring charts, despite missing the last five rounds of fixtures.
And the Italy international is desperate to add to that tally before the end of the season, feeling he owes something to the Serie A club.
"I have to thank Fiorentina for believing in me because after staying two years without playing it's hard to find a team who will believe in you and give you the opportunity to play at such a high level," he told Sports Illustrated.
"We're playing again for the Champions League this year so I can only say thanks to them for believing in me. Obviously I have a great team behind me."
The American-born forward is currently continuing his rehabilitation from a knee ligament injury in New York and said he believes he'll play at the Stadio Olimpico for the showpiece event, which will take place on May 3 or 7, depending on Europa League commitments.
"The recovery's going well," he said. "It takes time, you can't rush into stuff because you don't want to have other injuries. It's tough and staying away from the soccer field for so long is a pain. I don't like to think too far ahead because each day is a challenge and I'm remaining focused on today, but it's a big year. This is a minor setback and we'll see what happens."
Should all go according to plan, Rossi will return for the conclusion of the Serie A season and be part of Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad for the World Cup.
"It's a dream for every player to play for their national team," Rossi said. "Before getting injured, I was part of that team leading up to Euro 2012, but unfortunately I got injured that year.
"It was nice to get my first call-up and my first games, which showed me they still believed in me. It didn't matter how hard I got knocked down, they believed I'd get back to being the player I was. Being called up gave me that extra push to be better and do more. It was a good feeling to get back on the field with that shirt."
Rossi is an integral part of Prandelli's plans for the World Cup, with the Italy coach recently stating that he and Mario Balotelli would form his first-choice attack in Brazil.
And the former Manchester United player says that he and Balotelli get on well both on the pitch and off it.
"We know each other pretty well, we're always sitting at the back of the bus together. We like to chill and talk," he said. "Obviously on the soccer field there's all the adrenaline, all that will to do something to make the team win and sometimes people take that the wrong way but usually you can't judge somebody on the field. You have to get to know them outside and I got to know him and he's a cool guy."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.