Roma most emotional goal of the season belongs to one of her most forgotten players, Federico Balzaretti. Beset by injuries all year, Roma's nominal starting leftback made only 10 appearances in this magical season, none since the ninety minutes he turned in against Sassuolo on November 10. We've spoken about it several times since his arrival, but it bears repeating: Balzaretti will never be confused with the legends at his position, but he has always proved to be a reliable defender and an active participant in the attack. Despite his relative lack of acclaim, his arrival was heralded due to the composure he brought to a position that sorely needed it.
With only one year remaining on this deal, Balzaretti's future in Roma is uncertain, but no matter how the next 12 months play out, Balzaretti's name is indelibly etched into Roman lore thanks to his derby winning goal from September
September 22, 2013: 63rd Minute
Talk about a swing of emotions; look at the sheer exasperation on Balzaretti's face at the outset of this video after he nearly broke the game open in the 62nd minute. He wouldn't have to wait long for his first taste of Roman glory, however.
There was no secret solution to this goal, just a deftly chipped outswinger from Francesco Totti, one that just barely escaped headed attempts from both Gervinho and Mehdi Benatia before falling to Balzaretti's left leg, which was already cocked and loaded, waiting to unleash the fury of a thousand derbies upon Federico Marchetti's goal.
Credit to Totti for delivering a well-played ball, and kudos to Gervinho and Benatia for restraining themselves, but Balzaretti was in prime position and wasted no time in settling the ball, he just buried it past Marchetti plain and simple, but this moment exceed the mere mechanics of the goal.
For the man, it was only his seventh career Serie A goal and his first since 2010, but for the club, Balzaretti's goal and the tears that followed were a catharsis, a cleansing of all that plagued Roma's beleaguered soul; in one fell swoop, Balzaretti vanquished the ghosts of May 26th . As we look back on it now, this goal really captured the essence of the entire season, an essence best described by our very own Sam:
Yesterday's win brought out the animal. The base, fist clenching, expletive exclaiming, shirt-ripping, triumphant fury that comes from the release of a burden so heavy, a nightmare so deep it leaves the victor bellowing to the clouds. It was the lion roaring over the defeated zebra, the gambler when the ball stops on their chosen number, the shipwrecked survivor feeling the sand. It was Federico Balzaretti, it was you and it was me.
AS Roma needed that win. Not for the points, not to remain on top of the table and not to keep the winning run going. It was needed to put this squadra back into the reckoning as a football team that doesn't thrive on winning trophies to keep fans, but captures imaginations, hearts and passions.
This season will be remembered for so much more than the 85 points Roma accrued, this was a reckoning, a message to the league and to the world that Roma will no longer be trifled with, that they will no longer settle for good enough, that moral victories ring hollow, and that being provincial was a way of the past. Balzaretti's goal could have happened in any match and meant as much, but because it happened in the derby, because it was a chance for revenge, and because it meant so much to the man himself, it will resonate far beyond the moment in which it occurred.
We don't know what the future will hold for Balzaretti and Roma, but we do that, because of this moment, Roma will always hold Balzaretti dear.