"Fasten up your head belts. Time to ride the skies. It's time to be immortal, 'cause heroes never die."
- Megadeth, Blood of Heroes.
There are things that just seemed to be made to work, aren't they? Sometimes, things just fit in and it's impossible to avoid them. Romans playing at Roma, while many times a dying kind, has the ability to make you burst with pride and with a sense of fondness you won't find anywhere else; it's a certain feeling of being at the right place, where everything was made to last. Our own kind of heroes.
We all know the Tottis, the De Rossis and the Florenzis of the world; they are the banners, the bastions and the symbols. The ones that truly make Roma a different club in the best possible way. On the other hand, you have the failures, the ones that didn't live up to the task and went their separate ways. The players that weren't capable of wielding this shirt the way it was meant to be and had to leave this bipolar institution to have a better luck in their careers.
But then you have the worst kind: the middle man. If there's one player that stays in no man's land, in a sort of wasteland where the thought of an alternative future is just too tempting to avoid, it’s Alberto Aquilani, Il Principino. Or better known as The Prince That Never Was.
For seven years, Alberto gave us lots of things to enjoy: goals that burn within our hearts, skills that can make any football fan dream with the biggest stages, rabonas at San Siro to defeat a peak Milan side, celebrations of the greatest kind of paroxysm and just a swagger, a distillation of class and talent that you cannot teach and you cannot learn. A God-given power to make supporters feel represented.
In Aquilani we had the next Capitano, the next Idol to support, but like all things Roma, it’s as if this club had the unnecessary curse of always making ill-fated decisions, that wasn’t meant to be.
The Italian magician went to England, to Liverpool, for 20 million euros and with the hope of getting the titles and the prestige he didn't get at the Eternal City. But like a true Roman and like a true hero, Alberto was destined for a lot of hell: spells at Liverpool, Juventus (ugh), Milan, Fiorentina, Sporting Club, Pescara and Sassuolo signal a great career in terms of clubs, but poor in performances and results; Aquilani never regained the form he had at Roma and nowadays, at the age of 32, is only the remain of a tortuous and brilliant past.
If there's one genuine Roma Regret, it's Aquilani. Some players are never meant to leave their true homes, where authenticity and comfort lies. We cannot talk of destiny, but it is complicated to avoid it: he was supposed to stay here and go on, like others great Roman did before him. But like things tend to happen around here, only the memories remain and the questions of how would have been everything with him.
Everything under the gaze of The Prince That Never Was.