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A Fond Look Back at Roma's Number Fives

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On this, the fifth of November, let's remember some of the men to wear Roma’s number five.

AS Roma’s French defender Philippe Mexes Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images

According to Wikipedia, V for Vendetta is a “2005 dystopian political thriller” in which the semi-titular character, V, recreates the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, exacting his revenge on the fictional Norsefire party, the ruling political faction in this alternate 2032 United Kingdom. V’s clarion call, “Remember, remember, the fifth of November”—an actual British rhyme from the early 17th century inspired by Fawkes plot—was the movies de facto tagline and has since led many to commemorate Guy Fawkes failed attempt at revolution.

If you were a left-leaning college student when this film was released, you probably identified with Hugo Weaving's character, the oppressed revolutionary hell-bent on upsetting the scales of society. Even if you weren't entirely familiar with historical and political background of the Gunpowder Plot, Weaving's portrayal of V was incredibly captivating, so much so that you soon found yourself marking November 5th on your calendar and you may have even purchased a Guy Fawkes mask on eBay. (Incidentally, look at Weaving's run in the 00s: the Matrix trilogies, the Lord of the Rings trilogies, V for Vendetta, and even voicing Megatron in the Transformers movies. Pretty incredible stretch of success).

Anyway, since today is the Fifth of November, I thought we'd take a quick look back at some of Roma's recent number fives.

Vincent Candela (1997-2005)

Italian Soccer - Serie A - Roma v Lecce Photo by Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images

Candela, a french wingback, was famous for his #32 shirt, which he wore during Roma's last Scudetto triumph in 2001, but he actually started his Roma career off donning the number five. You'd be hard pressed to find a better fullback in recent Roma history, as Candela made well over 200 appearances for the Giallorossi and was conducted into the club Hall of Fame in 2013, and continues to pop up at club functions and/or charity matches.

The number five shirt would bounce around a bit before settling on this next man during the 2002-2003 season.

Jonathan Zebina (2000-2004)

Roma’s French defender Jonathan Zebina ( Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images

Zebina, a French right back, came to the capital on a 9.5 billion lire move (what a strange currency) in the summer of Y2K, linking up with his countryman Candela. Zebina would make 22 appearances during Roma's title winning season, seizing the starting spot the following year. Zebina was a mainstay with Roma for several seasons before skipping to Juventus in the summer of 2004, where he would deputize Gianluca Zambrotta, slap a flight attendant, and tear his Achilles before finally losing his spot in the squad to none other than Marco Motta during the 2010-2011 season.

I guess the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Philippe Mexès (2004-2011)

AS Roma’s defender Philippe Mexes of Fra

We discussed Mexes’ Roma career when Milan visited the capital a few weeks back, but it goes without saying: there haven't been many players as beloved as Mexes. Blessed with size, technique and ferocity for days, Mexes’ all-out style made him a smash hit with Roma fans. With well over 200 appearances for the club, Mexes was a crucial component in the oh-so-close-2000s teams, teaming up with Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Juan and Mirko Vucinic to deliver some of the most entertaining calcio the club has ever seen.

Mexes’ contract was allowed to expire at the end of the 2010-2011 season, signing with AC Milan soon after, bringing a rather unceremonious end to a brilliant Roma career.

Gabriel Heinze (2011-2012)

Atalanta BC v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

One of the few veterans purchased during the Luis Enrique summer, Heinze came to Roma after successful spells with Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Marseilles, winning league titles at each stop. At 31-years-old, Heinze was, in effect, supposed to do what Chris Smalling is doing right now: providing a steady presence next to Roma's youngsters.

Heinze would make 32 appearances for Roma that year, automatically triggering a contract extension, but the club decided to cut him lose in the spring of 2012, whereupon he returned to Argentina, suiting up for Newell's Old Boys for two years before calling it quits on his playing days.

Leandro Castan (2012-2016, 2018)

Roma v Udinese Serie A 23/09/2017 Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

While he isn't quite as lauded as Mexes, something tells me our appreciation and admiration for Castan will grow as the years pass. Purchased during the Zeman summer of 2012 for €5.5 million from Corinthians, Castan's signing was greeted with a wave of shoulder shrugs. Castan was almost 26-years-old when he was signed, and had never played outside of Brazil, so expectations were quite low.

Castan wasted no time making an impression, though, grabbing the starting role in the fall of 2012. Castan would make over 70 appearances in his first two seasons, providing Roma with shrewd and intelligent play along the way. Oh, and he also got us Marquinhos. Can't forget about that.

Castan's Roma career was cut short in part to a cavernoma discovered in his brain during 2014. Castan would fight his way back to the pitch, but by that point his Roma career was done and dusted. He would serve loan stints with Sampdoria, Torino and Cagliari before returning to Brazil where he currently plays for Vasgo da Gama.

Castan was a smooth and intelligent defender, and one can't help but wonder what might have happened if he were healthy during his entire tenure in Rome.

Leandro Paredes (2015-2017)

AS Roma v Empoli FC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

For a kid with less than 50 appearances in a Roma shirt, he sure was a controversial player. There was no real middle ground with Lovely Leo: you either thought he was the second coming of Andrea Pirlo or a shit defensive liability whose attacking contributions were vastly overrated.

I happened to love the kid and was thrilled when he finally latched on during Roma's almost historic 2016-2017 season. Under Luciano Spalletti's guidance, Paredes started to carve out a niche in Roma's midfield, garnering 27 league appearances and scoring three goals.

Paredes would become €23 million transfer fodder when he was sold to Zenit in the summer of 2017, but would shock the footballing world in the winter of 2019 when he moved to PSG for €40 million—a figure that somehow still doesn't seem correct.

Lovely Leo has struggled to find a role with the Parisians thus far, so don't be shocked if he trades employers sometime soon.

Juan Jesus (2016-Present)

AS Roma v Istanbul Basaksehir F.K.: Group J - UEFA Europa League Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Oof, no matter how/when/where it ends, there will be a lot to unpack from Juan Jesus’ Roma career. Purchased in the summer of 2016 for an eventual €10 million, many fans thought Roma lost their mind and/or were being duped by Inter Milan, who were previously duped by Roma into buying Dodo for nearly the same figure. The man affectionately known as Rruan wasn't without merits—he racked up over 100 appearances with Inter Milan—but there was just something irksome about this transfer.

And here we are, some 90 appearances later, and I'm still not sure what to make of the move. For every exhilarating high (his performances against Barcelona in the Champions League) there were equally crushing lows (pretty much everything he's done this season), making a fair assessment of his Roma career virtually impossible.

Now that he's been firmly relegated behind Gianluca Mancini, Chris Smalling and Federico Fazio, I suspect we'll never be able to accurately measure his Roma career. If nothing else, Juan has been a solid pro, ready to contribute wherever and whenever called upon, and don't get it twisted, there is a lot of value in that.

With Jesus’ contract expiring soon, we'll have to keep an eye out on that #5 shirt and hope that it's next occupant is cut in the Castan or Mexes cloth.