Just last week the possibility of Daniele De Rossi’s premature exit started to become a reality when Corriere dello Sport reported that there hadn’t been any contract renewal talks for quite some time. In my write up on the situation, I alluded to the fact that we could be witnessing the end of an era. Then suddenly, I woke up on Tuesday morning to the news that De Rossi, like Francesco Totti, would be leaving the club on someone else’s terms; that someone being President James Pallotta. As the day continued on and my sadness turned to anger after reading the way things transpired, reality hit me. The next two weekends will truly be the end of an era.
We Romanisti, for the all suffering that we endure, have in one sense been privileged. Over the course of 26 seasons, it was almost a given to have Totti, De Rossi, or both on the pitch. Two of the best players of their generation donned the Roma crest and poured out every last fiber of their beings trying to bring Roma to glory.
Let’s be honest, Roma is no Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, or Bayern Munich, where it would be easy for a hometown boy who’s a world class player to stick around while filling up both his trophy cabinet and bank account. No, when a player stays at Roma, when they are good enough to play on any team in the world, there’s only one motivating factor: love.
Don’t get me wrong, neither player will leave his playing days behind a pauper and they do have a few pieces of hardware. However, just think of what Totti and De Rossi could’ve achieved in fame, fortune, and hardware if they had fled for the greener pastures of Madrid or Manchester. Instead, they stuck around, suffering through heartbreaking seasons, where the talent around them wasn’t enough for even two generational players to get Roma over the finish line to a Scudetto.
Yet, neither ever complained. They were players deserving of Ferraris while Roma was buying FIATs. But they understood the hand they were dealt and never backed down from the challenge. For them football was about so much more than trophies and paychecks.
I wrote just last week that “The two men have become the physical embodiment of loyalty in an age where the word is often preached rather than practiced.” In this day in age the likes of men like Totti and De Rossi are the last of a dying breed. One day we will tell our children and grandchildren about them, yet they will never truly understand. Because nobody that hasn’t lived through their era will ever truly understand what they meant to Roma and Romanisti.
No, it is not doomsday. The club remains and always will, despite the current state of affairs. Roma will always be bigger than one man, whether that be a president or player. New players will take up the reigns of leadership. There will be more Romans in the side. And if we are fortunate enough more generational talents. However, none will be Totti and De Rossi.
Alessandro Florenzi will carry on the legacy of Roman-born captains and like De Rossi, he leaves it all on the pitch for the love of Roma. But he is no generational talent. We have more Romans; Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini are currently in the side while Luca Pellegrini and Alessio Riccardi are on the way. But will any have the longevity and loyalty of Totti and De Rossi? Our next generational talent may already be in the side in the form of Nicolò Zaniolo. Our heir to Totti’s #10, perhaps. However, he is no Roman.
With that in mind, players in the mold of De Rossi and Totti are something we may never see again at Roma; especially, two at the same time. So, while we don’t have much time to savor what is left of something special, try your best to fight through the anger toward Pallotta. There will be plenty of time to be angry at him for his treatment of our two legends, but save it for another day. The next two weekends should be all about celebrating De Rossi and the era that is being ushered out with him. For we may never see another one like it at Roma until the day we mutter “Forza Roma” on our dying breaths.