“If Argentina aren’t playing then I’m always supporting Italy,” Fazio confessed to Corriere dello Sport at the beginning of 2018. “I’m really sorry that they’re out of the World Cup.” The interviewers’ ears must have perked at that moment; the football-platitudes-and-bullshit radar starting to sound off as the paper asked Fazio to elaborate. Was it just meaningless humblebragging from the Roma and Argentina centre back?
“Actually my grandfather left Sicily in 1949,” Fazio explained, “and never came back to his roots. All the family stayed with him, but my father always had the desire to come back [to Italy]. My grandfather on my mother’s side, on the other hand, was originally from Lentiscosa in Salerno, and my grandmother from Como. I’ve got Italian blood. My grandfather reached Argentina after a month on the seas. He had to put in a lot of work just to get there.”
It looks like this interview was enough for the local council in Lentiscosa (Salerno) to invite Fazio into accepting honourary citizenship on behalf of his native grandparents. While everyone else was either accepting international call-ups or left stressing in Rome from the usual heros-to-zeros capital climate, Fazio had the right idea to kick off the international break with a party down in Salerno for the region’s September Saint Rosalia festival.
First Their Commander - Then They Made Me Their Chief
Now it’s rumoured some festival-goers interrupted Fazio in the middle of his acceptance speech last night in Salerno. One even went so far as to point out what was Fazio doing there? Shouldn’t he be more worried about his early season form and the rumours he is finished at the top level?
It’s said that was the moment Fazio challenged all of Lentiscosca’s men to a foot race. 100m dash against the town’s fastest runner. The crowd chuckled - surely Fazio was joking?
One citizen stepped forward from the crowd and immediately set off from the start line, gunshot ringing in the air, leaving Fazio barely any time to catch up before his opponent could accelerate into full speed. But crucially, Fazio did catch up. We all know what happened next.
The big Argentine defender ever-so-slightly brushed the unfortunate non-honourary citizen off the running track, straight into the ocean off south-west coast of Italy. There was no VAR and no time for a foul to be called (not that there would have been one called on review, anyway.)
That was the moment all protests died down, and everyone had a great party. The entire region of Salerno knew they’d been Fazio’d. And that’s really the gist of this story: not only has one of Europe’s best defenders taken command of the capital club’s backline, but he now rules his own fiefdom just south of Napoli, too.
13 Roma Players Called Away For International Duty
On a more serious note, Roma’s dressing room leaders - Fazio included - do have some work to do to rebuild a sense of unity at the club during the weeks ahead. While Trigoria will see the team training to regain ground from the slow start in Serie A, they’ll have to do so without the 13 names below - including making do with the surprise call-up of Nicolo Zaniolo to the senior Italy squad that we reported yesterday.
Nzonzi kicked off his France call-up by returning to his hometown club to accept an award for winning the World Cup. Robin Olsen was also at a wedding in Sweden.
International players returning to Trigoria on September 7th: Luca Pellegrini (Italy U-20s).
International players returning to Trigoria on September 10th: Bianda (France U-19s); Nzonzi (France); Kluivert (Holland).
International players returning to Trigoria on September 11th: Dzeko (Bosnia); Schick (Czech Republic); Manolas (Greece); Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Zaniolo (Italy); Kolarov (Serbia); Olsen (Sweden); Ünder (Turkey).