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From Man United to misery – Giuseppe Rossi’s final chance of redemption at Levante

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]njuries are the one thing that any athlete cannot plan for, with plenty of footballers over the years having their dreams ruined by an unfortunate twist or a malicious challenge.

However, it is the manner in which a player recuperates and returns from a setback that provides a light at the end of the tunnel.

Looking at Giuseppe Rossi, few would wish the diminutive striker ill.

The 29-year-old has been to hell and back with three serious knee injuries in four years that have robbed Italy of arguably its most gifted centre forward and threatened to end the career of a top-class star.

Rossi’s career has been on an upward trajectory since Manchester United brought the slightly built attacker to England as a fresh-faced teenager.

From a goal on his Premier League debut to a promising loan stint at Parma, the American-born forward was to show the world his potential after moving to Villarreal.

Over a number of seasons Rossi improved and became more lethal, with a spell-bounding 2010-11 campaign heralding a glut of goals, 32 in all, and confirming him as one of Spain’s most feared stars.

Since October 2011, things have largely been miserable for Rossi however.

A serious knee injury kept the striker on the sidelines for a prolonged period and sparked a chain of events that will have tested his spirit.

On two occasions the gifted attacker has returned from subsequent knee ligament ailments that have kept him out of action for over a year each time.

Having moved to Fiorentina, Rossi reminded the world of his predatory abilities with 16 goals before Christmas in 2013, before the third serious injury heartbreakingly occurred.

A slow and steady recuperation was undertaken, with the knowledge that another knee injury could well be the final nail in the coffin.

While the high-flying Viola have been fighting for Champions League qualification this term and posed an unlikely title challenge under Paulo Sousa, Rossi has played a fringe role after returning to availability.

The lack of fitness over the last four years has robbed the star of participation at Euro 2012 and the World Cup in 2014, with the upcoming European Championships in France this summer clearly a motivator for a drastic January switch.

Giuseppe RossiRossi has moved to La Liga basement dwellers Levante in a bid to recapture some of the form that made him such a sensation in his first stint in Spanish football and aims to put forward a case for inclusion in Antonio Conte’s Azzurri squad for Euro 2016.

More regular action has been afforded at the Ciutat de València and two goals in his first six starts has hinted that he still has what it takes to perform at the top level.

Levante are bottom of La Liga and are relying on Rossi to fire them to safety; the striker himself needs to perform to stand a chance of making Euro 2016.

Looking at Conte’s striking options on paper, the 29-year-old’s potential inclusion as a wildcard should not be ruled out.

Tempestuous figure Mario Balotelli is on the outs after losing his way, with a host of young and internationally inexperienced centre forwards comprising the Azzurri’s options.

Looking at Italy’s strikers selected for their last international friendlies, Southampton’s Graziano Pellè had the most caps with ten outings for his country.

The other four options do not overly inspire, with Simone Zaza, Manolo Gabbiadini and Éder not automatic first-choices at their respective clubs and Stefano Okaka playing his football in the modest Belgian Pro League.

Although Ciro Immobile should return to the national scene, Italy are not flush with proven strikers and certainly lack options – which is made all the more galling given the pedigree of superlative number nines that the European nation has produced over the generations.

Should Rossi get back to anywhere near his best and get a chance to represent his country this summer it would be a fitting reward for a player that has endured more than his fair share of bad luck.

Staying fit is the most important thing for the skilful attacker, who has a chance to put the dark days behind him and get back to what he does best.

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