In the name of the Father
Old and young. You need both on a team. One helps the other via interaction on the pitch. The old feel young again, the young feel safe and protected. What would a bunch of children be without a guiding hand, a careful shepherd with experience? Yes, they remain a bunch of children, running around headless and without a purpose. "Stop this madness", says the guiding hand. "Follow me, and thou shall be fine." For example: What would Robin be without Batman? Madonna without her toy boy(s)? The Playboy Bunnies without their Hugh Hefner? Catherine Zeta-Jones without Michael Douglas? Will Smith without Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black I, II and III? Exactly.
As antipole for Bren’s current overview of Roma’s thrilling youth prospects, I decided to focus on the geriatric, shaky, sturdy bones of Roma’s older players. The elders who are full of wisdom, the old knights who still ride bravely into the dark descent, the cranky grandfathers who still think they’re hip. I love ‘em. And so should you because Roma does have quite some dinosaurs in its ranks. Let’s start with the oldest and probably wisest of them all. He’s not just a father. No, he’s the Holy Father.
Francesco Totti (1976)
I’m gonna keep it short and sweet. Blink 182 perfectly described Totti in the song ‘What’s my age again?’. Even though he’s nearly 38, Totti’s physique, judging from photos and friendlies, is still unbelievable and unprecedented. God doesn't age, he is eternal. For now. Fingers crossed Francesco stays healthy. If he’s fit, he plays. Punto e basta… No Rudi, I said basta, not Basa.
Morgan De Sanctis (1977)
Barely a year younger than Francesco but quite frankly, Morgan’s almost as crucial for this team as Totti. Pretty much the same situation: If he’s fit, he plays. Some voices say it’s time to give Skorupski a shot. Ok, Coppa should do the trick for now and maybe some smaller Serie A opponents. But when the chips are down and it’s balls to the wall, De Sanctis should and probably will play. Because a defense is only as good as the goalkeeper behind it. Morgan’s an expert in communication and advice (aka: he has seen some sh*t in his life). It has been way too long since Roma had a reliable keeper at the back, an Italian at that. Maybe season 2014-2015 will be his last, who knows. But until he’s left Trigoria, Morgan is the one commanding and bossing the four men in front of him. Batman always gets the job done (see: movies, comics, tv series).
Bogdan Lobont (1978)
Also known as Labont (seriously guys, who keeps inventing those silly names, stop it). To put it mildly: Roma doesn’t really count on Bogdan this season. He’s a nice guy and all, but he will be riding the pine until something happens to Morgan or Skorupski. He’s fine with it. Roma’s fine with it. We’re fine it. Everybody happy. As good as a third-choice-keeper Roma can get for now. Plus he’s cheap. I like cheap old men. Ahem, next one.
Seydou Keita (1980)
What can I say about Seydou Keita? Except the fact that his name reminds me of my favorite French actress, Léa Seydoux (c’mon, google her, you salacious young man). He’s barely one month at Rome, it’s too early to judge his transfer. But he brings something to this squad. Probably the most important word in the football world: experience. A lot of it. One year at Sevilla and four years at Barcelona saw him lift more than fifteen (!) trophies. He signed a one-year-contract, doesn’t earn a big chunk and so far has settled well in Rome. He won’t and can’t make us forget Taddei but I’m certain he’ll give 100% for the colors until May. And that’s good enough for me.
Ashley Cole (1980)
Oh my. To be honest, this move shocked me. Roma desperately needed a first class LB. But in 2014, not 2010. Cashley Cole’s career has been pretty impressive (so is his love life, Sheryl I love you!) but this is Cole’s 1st season outside of England and he’s 33, going on 34. Just like Keita, this move is mainly to bridge the gap between now and the Summer of 2015. We need bodies for the busy schedule ahead, preferably experienced guys, warriors who know the European stage. There were few other decent options out there than Cole.
He’s quite a loyal chap though. Seven seasons at Arsenal, eight at Chelsea. He won’t reach seven at Rome, maybe not even two. One thing is sure: he doesn’t have to fear the competition. Balzaretti’s nothing short of a corpse nowadays and Urby is mediocre at best. It’s time for Ashly to shine one more time and prove he also can do the trick outside of his birth nation. In his prime, Cole was one of the best LB’s in the world. And you know what they say: form is temporary, class is permanent…
Last season he taught Roma fans how to Dougie. It was great. Does he still got the moves after a largely disappointing World Cup? He can now fully focus on AS Roma and his return to the Champions League. Recently turned 33, his age might force him to sit on the bench from time to time but he’s still the best RB in Rome by far. Sorry Torosidis, but I prefer a Dougie over a Sirtaki any day.
Federico Balzaretti (1981)
Jack Skellington is in better shape than Federico right now. And he’s a walking skeleton made out of Mikado’s. Will we ever see Balzaretti (33 in December) in a Roma jersey again? Deep down inside you already know the answer.
Marco Borriello (1982)
Who cares, he has a whole modelling career in front of him! Marco’s life has only begun.
Daniele De Rossi (1983)
A little rash to put Daniele in this list, 31 is not THAT old you know (sorry for all the 31-year-old readers out there). But De Rossi has been a part of this team since 2002, that counts for something. When he speaks, the rest listens and Totti is proud of his disciple. Finally, we can safely say Daniele will stay at Roma for the rest of his career since teams like ManU and Real only want the superstars of tomorrow, genre Kroos or
Strootman Herrera. But honestly, who ever doubted the man?
AS Roma currently has nine 30+ players, at least five of them are starters. But they also have nine players who are 23 or younger. The perfect mix. Old and young. Marching onwards to the big stage. Hand in hand. Never separated, always together. The young don’t stand alone. The old aren’t old anymore.