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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 21, 2006

United striker Rossi harbours Azzurri dream

Giuseppe Rossi turned down a place at this summer's World Cup to pursue his dream of playing for Italy.

Born in New Jersey, the 19-year-old has always had the option of playing for the United States as well as Italy, birthplace of both his parents and where Rossi moved with them when he was 12.

Recognising Rossi's potential, the USA were desperate to get the Manchester United striker to commit to an international future with them, with the possibility of a place in their 23-man squad for Germany tantalisingly raised in talks over the issue.

However, Rossi's goal has been to win a cap for Italy as long as he can remember.

And while the teenager recognises the difficulty of achieving the aim, there is no way he could have chosen any other path.

'The USA asked me to play and I knew there was also an opportunity to go to the World Cup,' said Rossi.

'But I also knew if I took that chance, I would never be able to play for Italy, which has been my dream virtually since the day I was born.

'I had to tell the USA the truth. I know it will be far harder trying to get in the Italian team than the United States but I have absolutely no regrets about the option I have taken.'

Rossi has a far more immediate task in front of him just now though, namely forcing his way into Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils line-up on a regular basis.

Player and manager are in agreement that, after two highly successful seasons at reserve-team level, another year in the second string is pointless.

What Ferguson has not yet decided is whether to keep Rossi for the season or let the youngster, whose new contract runs until 2010, further his education with six months away from Old Trafford.

Much may depend on whether United can secure a direct replacement for Ruud van Nistelrooy, whose departure is set to be confirmed any day soon.

But, while Rossi will not complain if Ferguson opts to let him leave for a short spell, he hopes he can remain where he is.

'I would prefer to stay and play,' he said.

'If you have to choose between all the teams in the Premiership, the first one that pops into your head is Manchester United.

'I do need to get some more experience in the Premiership. If that means I have to go out on loan, then I will. But if there is the chance to stay here and play, that would be the ultimate.'

• Kaizer Chiefs set up a second meeting with Manchester United as they beat Orlando Pirates 2-0 in the third Vodacom Challenge match in Rustenburg.

Former Charlton striker Shaun Bartlett gave the home side the perfect start with a goal in the fifth minute, heading in David Mathebula's cross.

The Chiefs secured victory with 13 minutes to go when Gert Schalkwyk added a second with a header which hit the post on its way in.

Their win sets up a match against Manchester United on Saturday, with the Red Devils having beaten the Chiefs 1-0 on Tuesday this week.