In an age when players jump from club to club on whim, often carrying the GDP of a small island nation along with them, chasing paychecks and trophies like a cat chases a mouse, the connection between a club and its fans may seem like a thing of the past. It’s like Jerry Seinfeld once joked; fans are essentially rooting for laundry. The absence of loyalty works both ways of course, but it’s inescapable—footballers and clubs are independent actors, each seeking to exploit the other for financial gain.
And while AS Roma isn’t immune to crash commercialism, the bond between Romans in the stands and the Romans on the pitch is almost an anachronism. As we discussed several months ago, AS Roma, one of the 20 most valuable clubs in the world, one vetted and pimped by Qatar Airways, one with millions of social media devotees, could potentially be captained by a local kid for at least 50 years before all is said and done, assuming the link started by Francesco Totti carries on through Luca Pellegrini.
That is absurd, and while Totti will always and forever be the standard bearer for all things AS Roma, there’s just something about Daniele De Rossi that makes him more relatable. Yeah, he’s been an elite, world class athlete for damn near 20 years, but he has a disheveled beard, he screams and has questionable tattoos, so in a way, he seems like the guy who brewed his own beer before it became cool, or like the type of dude who rebuilt a 1948 Chevy pickup on weekends with his bare hands and rusted Craftsman wrenches from a Sears that’s been closed for decades.
Part of what makes De Rossi so relatable is that doesn’t put on heirs—he tells the truth and owns up to his mistakes, which has endeared him to the Roma faithful like few others. And today, well, that esteem only grew deeper.
Speaking to Canal Football Plus, De Rossi reflected on his nearly two decades in a Roma shirt.
Staying at Roma was the wrong choice professionally, but I was aware of all this...It’s a different way of being ambitious. Staying where you’re not used to winning things also means trying to change the mentality and forge a winning one because winning tastes better at those clubs. That’s what’s happening now and I’ve always dreamt of doing so.
What more needs to be said? I could rewrite this piece a thousand times and never truly come close to capturing what De Rossi means to Roma fans. By turning down the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona over the years, De Rossi knew full well what he was giving up, but more importantly new intrinsically why he was giving it up.
Much like Francesco Totti before him, the measure of the man rests not in the titles or cash he’s accumulated, but in the values to which he adheres, and to Totti and to De Rossi a life serving Rome was its own reward.
To paraphrase the club motto, Daniele De Rossi is not discussed, he is loved.