Serie A is finally upon us. This is the last Totti Tuesday before the start of the competition. For me, AS Roma is like McDonalds. ‘I’m lovin it!’. Can’t argue with that. And especially not Simplicio. 2013-2014 will be Roma’s 81st season in Serie A. I have had the pleasure to experience eleven by now, this will be my twelfth. And I’ve only visited my psychiatrist like 200 times during those years. So yes, I have seen my fair share of succes, despair, frustration, anticipation, joy and drama. Mostly drama.
Mines of Moria
I’ve seen quite a bit of players come and go. Players from countries all over the world who went on to play for La Maggica. Norwegian, Greek, American, Argentinian, Bosnian, Polish, French, Ivorian, Egyptian, Swedish, Costa Rican, Honduran, Congolese you name it. Except Belgians which makes me f***** cry a river. Seriously, Belgium’s a great country, what have we done wrong?
I’ve seen a young, beardless De Rossi wear the number 27, I’ve seen Batistuta score a goal in the Champions League, I’ve seen Coppa Italia celebrations, I’ve seen Vucinic strip his pants, I’ve seen the Okaka backheel against Siena, I’ve seen Taddei’s aurelio trick, I’ve seen Capello going mad on the sidelines, I’ve seen Traianos Dellas commanding the defence, I’ve seen derby wins and losses, I’ve seen Zeman start his second tenure in Rome, I’ve seen Franco Sensi smiling in the Olimpico, I’ve seen Mexes cry, I’ve seen Borriello warming up, I’ve seen Loria score…. So many emotions, so many memories, so many stained pants.
Marten Portoise is a man with a plan, we all know that. Some time ago, he unveiled his plan to us, the editors. He wanted to bring something else on the table. Some sort of preview but with a more personal touch, digging deeper into the mines of Moria in search of Roman stories which we all can relate to. If all went as planned, you've already read two previews of CDTs bloggers before Tuesday: Bren and Sam. Today it’s JonAS Roma’s turn. God I like to talk in third person about myself, don’t you?
Close encounters of the third kind
During the past eleven seasons, I’ve seen (here I go again) a lot of spectacular matches and experienced a lot of magical evenings.
2008: Real – Roma 1-2 (CL)
2010: Roma – Bayern 3-2 (CL)
2006: Lazio – Roma 0-2 (record eleventh win in a row in Serie A)
2006: Roma – Catania 7-0 (obvious reasons)
2010: Roma – Inter 2-1 (Zampa’s reaction on Toni’s goal)
2004: Roma – Juventus 4-0 (Cassano celebration)
2007: Roma – Inter 6-2 (Coppa Italia)
2012: Roma - Milan 4-2 (Zemanlandia)
I can go on like this forever. But there’s one game I always be fond of. And it’s one of my earliest close enounters with AS Roma. Let me take you back to season 2002-2003. Champions League. Estadio Mestalla, Valencia.
A quick introduction: Roma entered the first group stage with Real, AEK Athens and Belgian side Genk. All Genk games were broadcasted live on Belgian tv. Including the Roma encounters, Genk-Roma (0-1, courtesy of Cassano) and Roma-Genk (0-0). Of course I folIowed both games intensively. Back then, I was a fan of the Azzurri ever since Euro 2000 and always had a weak spot for everything Italian: food, culture, sports, language, women (ahem). This was the perfect opportunity to watch a football team from the capital of Italy, Rome. As the CL group stage continued, I grew fonder of these Romans and their ridiculously great kits.
Genk were eliminated after the first group stage, in the second group stage (between November ‘02 and March ‘03) Roma were drawn with Ajax, Arsenal and… Valencia. Now things are getting interesting. Roma started dramatically (what else?). Olimpico defeats against Arsenal and Valencia, away loss against Ajax. 0 points after three games. Gone were any qualification hopes for the quarter-finals… Or so people thought.
Enter Valencia-Roma on Wednesday evening, February 26. Valencia were still unbeaten in the CL up ‘till then and were, logically, huge favorites.
Roma’s 3-5-2 lineup: Antonioli, Zebina, Aldair, Samuel, Cafu, Emerson, Tommasi, Lima, Candela, Totti , Cassano
Bench : Zotti, Sartor, Cufré, Fuser, Guigou, Ferronetti, De Rossi
Fast forward 90 minutes and Roma shook the entire European stage. You can find a small report on UEFA’s official site here,statistics here and some sweetheart even put the entire game on YouTube. In a nutshell: Totti scored twice and also gave a splendid assist to Emerson. Three goals in the space of twelve minutes, 0-3 after only 36 minutes played. The other 54 minutes were pure exstacy and euphoria. Roma’s defence held on and no goals were scored in the second half.
Beep, beep, beeeeep. Final whistle, 0-3. The entire city of Valencia, and to a certain extend Europe, were baffled and utterly shocked by this Roman blitz. Then it suddenly hit me: This club is special. One of a kind. Unlike any other.
‘You’ll never get this’
Roma still had a slight chance to advance but they never really repeated the trick. Two draws (Ajax, Arsenal) followed after this win but alas it was too little, too late. Roma were eliminated with only five points out of six games. Valencia and Ajax advanced. But I didn’t feel sad. Instead, I felt reborn. I found something I needed all my life. A purpose, a reason to stay up all night. I had to know more of this Associazione and its history, its players, its colors. Their trophy cabinet didn’t even spring to my mind to be honest. I started learning some basic Italian words and searched the web for news sites and forums. www.asroma-addict.com was my first stop but certainly not my last. In other words: My journey finally began. And it is still going strong anno 2013.
Remember the sentence I said in the beginning of this post: The journey is more important than the destination. In all honesty, I don’t care where Roma end this season.*
*Ok maybe a bit exaggerated. If they win the Scudetto, I’ll run naked across town screaming you’ll never get this against middle-aged women while doing backflips. But just bear with me for a sec.
I don’t care for third, fourth, second or even midtable positions. All I want, after almost three months of patience, is to see Roma on a grass field again. To thrive on emotions, Totti’s gallery replays, off-the-ball-movement, clusterfucks. And a derby win pretty please. Even if I know the chances of Roma disappointing are pretty big concerning their American ownership history (seasons ‘11-‘12 and ‘12-‘13). Again: I don’t care. Give me Roma! Let’s not forget: There is still a certain
Fernando Francesco Totti walking around Rome, we need to enjoy every damn minute of him in red and yelllow as he isn’t getting any younger and his retirement gets closer every single day.
I’ll support each and every player who steps on the field come Sunday. Yes even Gervinho, Tallo or Skorupski if I have to. I need to. WE need to, as self-made tifosi. It’s our job, our mission, our goal. Roma’s goal is to score… goals. And to entertain. And to make sure places like Chiesa di Totti keep expanding and provide enough source material to talk all day and all night about one particular play or one brainfart. Without the (and I can’t stress this enough) respectless expressions, calling names and swearing. Opinions are a goldmine and necessary for this open-minded blog but so are mutual respect and amusement. That way, we can all enjoy Church to the fullest. Roma must always be the center of the discussion, not the discussion itself. Now, let’s all sit in a circle, exchange
girlfriends hands and sing along: Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya…
Which brings me to my last point:
La Roma non si discute, si ama. The wait is finally over, bring on Livorno. On Sunday, Giallorossi all around the world start their very own journey. Fasten your seatbelt, buckle up. The wolf and its pack are hungry. Very hungry.