Kermit the Frog once sang 'It's not easy being green', but what's even worse these days is being a Roman youth product. A lot have passed the test at AS Roma's primavera (even winning titles), but very few have made a career like Totti or De Rossi. Aquilani was plagued by injuries but had a nice spell nonetheless. Real-Roma anyone? Florenzi is rapidly building his own legacy as well in the Eternal City. Sadly he misses a prize in his cabinet, unlike those others I mentioned. So there you have it, a total of four true Roman symbols shot to fame since what, 2000? Disappointing for such a big city and history.
The list of Roman regrets is fairly long and I won't name them all. Yet, my hands keep itching and want to write some of them down. So here we go: Virga, Sini, Galloppa, Crescenzi, Piscitella, Pettinari, Verre, Viviani, Brosco, Malomo, Somma, Greco, Pipolo, Caprari, D'Alessandro... And then there are some names who were hailed as the next big thing and just fell short of a grand career in Rome. Some faded away, some were sold perhaps too quickly to other teams. Romagnoli, Bertolacci, Curci, Okaka and Cerci spring to my mind. And also a sixth name, probably my favorite one of the bunch: Aleandro Rosi.
The reason I decided to write his piece about Rosi and not one of the others, is his birthday. May 17, 1987. Yes my friends, Aleandro Rosi turns 30 this year. My my, how time flies. It felt like yesterday when a young teenager made his debut with the big boys in 2005. The exact same year that Rosi won the Primavera title. Aleandro's first minutes were against Chievo in May 2005. The trainer who gave him his debut? The same one we have now at Roma: Mister Luciano Spalletti.
Rosi made 17 and 19 appearances in the two seasons after his debut, he scored two goals in 2006-2007 and even featured in the CL from time to time. In 2007 Roma sent the then 20-year-old Rosi out on loan to Chievo and Livorno, to gain some valuable experience in Italy. Painful detail: both sides were in Serie B when he joined them, not really the best environment for such a talented player. He celebrated promotion to A with Livorno though.
Siena bought half of Rosi's contract in 2009. After three years, Rosi returned to Roma in 2010 and amassed about 37 appearances in two seasons, scoring one goal in the process. Especially under Luis Enrique he gathered some minutes. But it wasn't enough to convince him to stay, as Rosi's contract was broken by mutual consent in 2012. After that he travelled around Italy, playing for Parma, Sassuolo, Genoa, Fiorentina, Frosinone and since 2016 he's at Crotone. Six different teams in the space of four years. It's safe to say Rosi has never found a home like Rome.
So what went wrong? Why didn't he enter the same hall as Dani or Florenzi? Well, sometimes it's having luck on your side, sometimes it's the bad luck of others (injuries, suspensions which give other less known players a chance). It's not that he had world beaters holding him back in 2006 or 2011.
In 2006 a 33-year-old Panucci and newcomer Taddei were ever-present on Roma's right side. Ok, so two renowned Serie A players might be too hard for him to overcome. In 2011 though a 33-year-old Cassetti and (once again) an ageing Taddei blocked Rosi's rise to fame.
Perhaps that was his moment to break through, as only Cicinho could be considered a competitor. And we all know his career in Rome turned out... By the time Luis Enrique's era was nearing its end, even Taddei played RB and guys like Angel, Kjaer and Simplicio played as much as (or even more than) Aleandro. The fairy tale was over, the chemistry between two lovers was gone. A hot 'n cold one to say the least.
Maybe some thing were never meant to be. Maybe Rosi wasn't cut for the job. Maybe his Laziale past (youth squads) haunted him. The fact that he didn't play for a single big team since he left Roma (unlike a Romagnoli or 'Hos for example) shows that, in all fairness, Rosi was just mediocre at best and good for squad rotation, never a leader like Daniele or Florenzi.
And still, was he that disappointing? Didn't he deserve more chances? Could Zeman have turned Rosi into gold if the kid had stayed after 2012 like he did with Florenzi? Would he and Alessandro have been the two men leading Roma to a fourth title, celebrating at Testaccio and Circo Massimo? Would the current 3-5-2 formation suit him better than Luis' 4-3-3? A lot of questions, very few answers. Because we'll never find out.
Now an almost 30-year-old Aleandro is plying his trade at Crotone, who seems destined to drop back to Serie B. He has featured in 27 games and scored one goal. What's even worse: After Frosinone last season, Rosi is facing his second consecutive relegation. The Italian's future is highly uncertain. It always has been and always will. And for that, I pity him. Poor guy.
He's still owned by Genoa but ironically he hasn't played for the Grifoni since January 2015 so it seems he's ready for yet another club by the time of July. Again. A part of me is still hoping it will be Roma. Ti prego, come home, Aleandro.