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Totti Today #11: Mai Sola Mai(con)

In the Summer of 2013, just before his 32nd birthday, Maicon (full name Maicon Douglas Sisenando) signs for AS Roma. Arguably world’s greatest rightback of 2010, the then 31-year-old Brazilian was deemed a small risk by the management. A little portrait of the man who taught Romanisti worldwide how to Dougie.

Paolo Bruno

Maicon was still a big name in 2013, yes. But he was 1) coming from a disappointing season at Manchester City and 2) an all-time Inter hero. Keep the famous post-Calciopoli rivalry between Inter and Roma in mind. Ouch. That hurted among die-hard Roma fans. Plus, you know, aging Brazilian players and their history (Ronaldo, Mancini, Ronaldinho…).

His arrival didn’t exactly put a smile on most faces and he was always considered a short-term solution. But suddenly, we’re in October 2014 and there are talks of a contract extension for Dougie: a new contract which will see him wear the red-yellow until June 2016, when he will be almost 35-years-old. Not bad, Dougie. Not bad at all. How things have changed. At 33-years-old, Maicon is still considered our best option at RB and Rudi’s number one choice.

Hmm, an old attack-minded Brazilian rightback with flair who rushes down the flank and can also play wingback. Reminds you of someone? Yep, Marcos Evangelista de Morais. AKA Cafu. Of course, Maicon will never reach the status of Cafu in Rome but to tell the truth, he’s slowly writing his name in Roma’s history books as well. Before arriving in Rome, Maicon had won nearly everything in football: titles in Italy and Brazil, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa, Champions League, Club World Cup, Copa America with the NT… Only a FIFA World Cup was missing.

And that might be the reason why he chose Roma. A golden opportunity to fight for his place with the Seleçao and earn a spot for Brazil 2014. Dani Alves and Rafinha provided stiff competition but weren't the youngest anymore. There were a lot of kids waiting in the locker room to inherit their position: Rafael, Danilo, Fernandes, Fabinho… Leaving Manchester was the only option and returning to his favorite football country Italy, where he was deservedly praised, was only a matter of time.

But he didn’t choose for a comeback at Inter. Instead, he got attracted to AS Roma’s project. The club has yearned for a quality rightback for years now and finally they got one, albeit an older prototype. Let’s sum up a couple of players who were brought in as rightbacks, shall we? Warning: this might hurt your eyes. Here we go: Piris, Torosidis, Cassetti, Crescenzi, Rosi, Motta, Cufré, Zebina. Hardly resembles Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, right?

Some of them were hard-working and loyal players, yes, but these are not the guys who give you places of honor. We were not exactly spoiled at RB since Cafu and Panucci (who played mostly as CB in his last seasons) left. Perhaps the biggest hope was on Cicinho. Joining Roma from Real Madrid in 2007, Cicinho was really a man who made the fans dream of the good old Cafu days. Alas, apart from some notable games, he left Rome via the backdoor. After Roma, he played for Villarreal, Recife and now Sivasspor. Enough said.

Fast forward to Summer 2013, mid July. Shocking news, Roma signed the 32,486th RB in its history. But this time, and by American standards, they went for a big fish. Maicon, considered world’s best rightback in 2010, a regular starter for the Brazilian national team, a winner. Great news, if it indeed was 2010 and not 2013. His last season at Inter was mediocre, the Nerazzurri finished sixth and were almost thirty points behind champions Juve (Roma were seventh but let’s just quickly move on).

His English adventure in 2012-2013 was a flop by his standards: only nine league games, no goals, plenty of injuries, and losing his place in the starting 11 to Zabaleta and Micah Richards. And when Roberto Mancini, his mentor, was sacked, things looked bad for Dougie. Was this the end? Which team would take a chance on him?

The rest, as they say, is history. Maicon’s first season in Rome was an instant hit: 28 games, 2 goals, good grades, a Roman record total of 85 points in Serie A, a good relationship with his coach and colleagues, and a ticket for the FIFA World Cup in his home country. Roma’s risk paid off. Maicon did the right thing. So please, see this post as a celebration of Maicon. As a person, but more importantly, as a player. For helping us out after three miserable seasons, for bringing the Champions League anthem back to Rome after all these years, and for reminding us of the golden Cafu days.

Feel free to post your favorite Maicon moment in the comment section below. Trust me, there are a lot of them. And there are more to come for sure because Roma keeps doing the Dougie until 2016.

And what about those criticising fans of 2013? One by one, they all had to admit they were wrong. And they wouldn’t want it any other way.