Daniele De Rossi has revealed Italy's Euro 2012 contest against England will give him the opportunity to face his idol, Steven Gerrard.Italy will tackle England on Sunday in their quarter-final after finishing second in Group C following a 2-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland.
And De Rossi thinks Roy Hodgson's men will pose Italy a great threat, hailing the quality of the England captain in particular.
"Gerrard has always been my idol, he has been playing at a high level for years," De Rossi told reporters.
"England are very strong, they have an Italian approach, with a good defence. We would rather face Ukraine, but it is okay."
The 28-year-old has played as a centre-back in two games at the tournament following the fitness problems that have plagued the team's defenders.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has not yet made a decision on where the Roma midfielder will be used against England.
"Prandelli trusts me, he showed that by deploying me as a defender," De Rossi said. "He makes me play in different positions, which is something that I like.
"I do not know where I will play against England."
Mario Balotelli could be handed a start on Sunday following his goal against Ireland, and De Rossi believes the Manchester City striker can play a big role in the match.
"We hope we will do well. The important thing is that we cause England some problems, it is the same if it is Balotelli to do it or someone else," De Rossi said.
"What matters is to score goals, and Mario can score them. He looks fine to me, but at his age it is normal that he should start to take responsibility and be treated like the others. He is becoming a man now.
"At his age I went to the World Cup in 2006 and elbowed someone (Brian McBride). It made me grow up."