What does it take to be a superstar for AS Roma? Talent is a given, but the Roma faithful can't be bought on skill alone; one needs something beyond and apart from mere physical gifts. No, in order to truly endear yourself to the people of the Eternal City, you need to play the game with passion, exuberance, ferocity and an almost reckless abandonment and blind commitment to the crest.
And since Roma is loved rather than discussed, you just know these players when you see them. They stir certain feelings and evoke certain passions when you watch them play football; it's almost visceral, defying explanation.
Roma don't produce superstars on the order of clubs like Real Madrid or Barcelona, but there have been quite a few over years, but none brighter or more worthy of that label than Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi; they are the gold standard for what it means to be a Roman superstar.
But when Roma transitioned to women's football in 2018, we were left to wonder who would carry that mantle for the Giallorosse?
Given her local roots, her impeccable professional resume and her standing with the national team, Elisa Bartoli was the natural choice. And through two and a half seasons leading her hometown club, Bartoli, a born and bred Roman, has proven to be cut from the same cloth as Totti and De Rossi; she's just...Roma through and through, embodying everything we love about this club; you can just see it her eyes and the way she carries herself on the pitch.
Bartoli was the ideal choice to lead Roma's new venture into women's football, but it takes more than one star to become a winning club and more than one personality to form an identity and foster a community of fans.
Last summer, Roma addressed both those issues when they added arguably one of the best midfielders in the world in the form of Manuela Giugliano, who was fresh off an MVP campaign for AC Milan and was one of star's of Italy's run in World Cup 2019, going viral with her patented camera wink during the Italian national anthem. Giugliano shook off an injury plagued first season in the capital to cement her status as one of the league's true standouts.
The Giallorosse also feature several of Italy's best and brightest young talents in Agnese Bonfantini, Giada Greggi and Angelica Soffia, each of whom has been with Roma since the start and each of whom has had their moments in the sun.
So let's run that back: Roma has a local kid who leads and bleeds for the club, a midfield dynamo you could drop into any top club in the world without skipping a beat and a gaggle of up and comers itching to make a name for themselves.
But, none of them...NONE. OF. THEM...can hold a candle to Annamaria Serturini, Roma's diminutive 22-year-old forward. Signed from Brescia in the summer of 2018, Serturini has been far and away the best player in Roma's brief existence. With 21 goals in little more than 50 appearances in a Roma shirt, Serturini has been Roma's most dangerous and most consistent weapon.
With her signature light-tipped pony tail cutting through the wind as she races up and down the pitch, Serturini is hard to miss. Whether she's outracing defenders through the middle of the park, cutting in from the left and weaving through defenders who might as well be wearing cement shoes, or terrorizing goalkeepers with golazo after golazo, few players on Roma (let alone the league) can match her combination of speed, agility, marksmanship and sheer audacity.
Given her proclivity to cut in from the wing, using her speed and agility to beat defenders, it's easy to paint Serturini as your typical one-trick pony winger, but take a look at that highlight package above and you'll see Serturini attacking through the middle, creating chances from the flank, working give and goes, swapping positions with Bonfantini and, of course, dropping the ball in the back of the net from 20 or 30 yards for fun.
Given her low center of gravity, her speed, agility, and quick first step, she is practically impossible to stop; if she has it in her mind to dribble past you, she will. And even if she can't carve out enough space to go one-v-one with the keeper, her ability to bend the ball allows her to score from tight spaces, while the power and accuracy of her long-range shots makes her a threat from virtually anywhere in the final third.
Since signing with Roma in the summer of 2018, Serturini's 22 goals rank fifth in Serie A, trailing only league heavyweights Cristiana Girelli, Daniela Sabatino, Valentina Giacinti and Tatiana Bonetti. And thats even after what was essentially a lost season last year when she managed only four goals.
With four goals in only 542 minutes thus far, Serturini has bounced back from her down 2019-2020 season and is on pace to eclipse her career high of 11 goals, which she managed in Roma’s debut season in 2018-2019.
We’ve spent a lot of time over the past two and half years praising Roma’s young talent, forecasting what they might become and dreaming of better days ahead for the club, but no player in that time has been as effective, as exciting and, quite frankly, as consistently good as Annamaria Serturini; she's a unique bundle of athleticism, aggression and courage.
I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long to single her out, so please accept my apologies, Annamaria. But one look at the way she plays, the way she celebrates, the way she supports her teammates, and the way she leaves it all on the pitch each and every week, she fits the bill as a true AS Roma star. And if she keeps this up, it won’t be long before she etches her name into club lore.