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Daniele De Rossi: The Last of the Romans

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When Rome belonged to Romans...

FC Porto v AS Roma - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

I’m standing on the rain-slick precipice of darkness, looking down on a different world. Still letting it sink in. Slowly, but surely I wonder, what did I miss? How did it all pass by so fast? Like a sudden flash tore my eyelids apart, and only when I was able to see again, I started to appreciate all the lovely things around me. Suddenly it hit me.

Beauty. Love. Passion. Funny, the most important things are impossible to see. Only feel. Yet today, I feel nothing. No, I do feel one thing. Fear. For what may come. For an uncertain future. Without something that has been here with me for more than 18 years. I don’t want to walk this menacing road alone. Stay with me. Together, we are stronger. We can achieve more. We can take out the world. Why leave? Why?

Rome belongs to the Romans.

My friends. This is a bitter pill to swallow. One that is pushed down our throats by a higher authority. Like taxes. Or bad hair commercials. Or that umpteenth Fast & Furious movie.

Our love. Our asylum. Our shelter. Our haven. Our home has lost a piece. A dent became a crack. The crack became a God damn volcanic eruption of everything life threatening. Fire turn the skies into an intimidating red sea. Thunders make mountains shiver and tremble. A flood washes away all emotions, what remains is nothing more than a frail construction. A crushed pile of hopes and dreams. Ashes. Dust. Only a slight breeze is all it takes to wipe out years of hard work. Because they would not listen. Because they ignored the one and only golden rule.

Rome belongs to the Romans.

You were there. All those years ago. 2001. For 18 years I saw you. Cheered for you. Blamed you. Worshipped you. Loved you. You were always there. Every time. Every season.

In the Autumn you put La Maggica on your back and guided us through the bad times. Rough starts were acceptable with you. In the winter you were the leader on the snowy plains of Torino or Genoa. In the spring you gathered the troops for one last push. In the summer you were the first one on the training ground and the last one to call it quits.

18 years—more than 70 seasons came and went in that time. But you, you never gave up. When you talk, the others listen. When you say we jump, we jump. When we were in shambles, you stood up for us. When everyone’s head was down, you held up yours. For the sake of the city and its citizen. For pride and glory. For the colors. Those beautiful colors. We will never forget.

Rome belongs to the Romans.

There aren’t enough words to describe this. Not enough strength in my fingers to write all my conflicting feelings on a digital piece of paper. Meaningless. Pointless. So I decided to go to Church. To reflect. To join my fellow brothers and pray. To wish it was all just a dream.

In Church I sit down. Alongside the hollow arcades. Empty. Sick. Tired. In here they understand. They know. They feel what I feel. Pain. Sorrow. Again. Not even two years have passed since the Great Goodbye of Il Bimbo d’Oro. Now this. They’ll never learn. You don’t mess with the institution. You don’t cut down the biggest trees of the forest. You protect them. Save them.

Rome belongs to the Romans.

Dani. Once hailed as our Capitano Futuro. Now we are deprived of our future. Or so it feels. Do you feel scared in Church? I do. What is left to fight for? Who will stand up now? So many questions. Every day more and more. We slide back into the darkness. The abyss. This is not how I expected things to go. Not at all.

Dani. Grazie. For being my companion all these years. For all the tears we shared. The missed opportunities. The celebrations. The honesty. The powerful beard. The tattoos. You truly put the magic into Maggica. I will miss you.

How I long for those days. When Rome belonged to the Romans.