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An All-Time XI: Best Italians to Ever Play for Roma

Roma’s had hundreds of Italians play for the club in its history, but only XI can make the cut on CdT.

Udinese Calcio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

Throughout its history, Roma has had hundreds of Italians wear the club colors. Many have been Roman, representing their city with pride while others have come to the capital from other parts of the Bel Paese and stuck around for quite some time. Roma has never had the broad appeal of the big money clubs of the industrial north to attract the top Italian talent. That’s part of the reason that Roman talent has been so prized through the years. That loyalty to the city and club has been priceless for Roma.

As you’ll notice, it’s no coincidence that many of the players on this list do hail from Rome or the surrounding area. With Milan, Inter, and Juve often buying up the best Italian talent from around the peninsula, Roma has often had to rely on loyal hometown talent to remain competitive. And with Scudetti being so rare in the capital, when things do come together just right like in 1983 and 2001, it’s no surprise that many of those players are revered in the team’s history books. So expect quite a few from that ‘83 team, which was mostly Italian.

Goalkeeper: Franco Tancredi

Giulianova (Abruzzo) | 1978-1990 | 383 Appearances

Liverpool FC v AS Roma - European Cup Final
Franco Tancredi of AS Roma makes a save during the UEFA European Cup Final between AS Roma and Liverpool FC held on May 30, 1984 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.
Photo by Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Tancredi is known as one of the best Italian goalkeepers of his generation. He protected the Giallorossi net for more than a decade, accumulating a number of trophies along the way. Tancredi has the most appearances of any goalkeeper in club history. Even after he left the club, the Curva Sud showed their appreciation for him by inviting to come grea\et them as a Torino player, something the official site describes by saying “Back in the dressing room Tancredi would later declare it the best day of his life.”

Right-Back: Sebastiano Nela

Rappalo (Liguria) | 1981–1993 | 397 Appearances

Sebastiano Nela

Nela was a hard working full-back who patrolled the right side of the Giallorossi defense for just over a decade. Nela was known as an offensive minded full-back who would maraud down the flank and whip in crosses with his left foot, but had the pace to get back and cover opponents’ attacks. He was also versatile enough to play across the entire back line and occasionally played defensive mid.

Left-Back: Francesco Rocca

San Vito Romano (Lazio)| 1972–1981 | 170 Appearances

Francesco Rocca

Rocca was a born and bred Roma fan, who was blessed with great physical gifts. Rocca’s great pace down the left earned him the nickname “Kawasaki” like the speedy sports bike. He is described on the team’s official site as “displaying a level of dynamism, passion and speed the likes of which Italy had never seen before.” Unfortunately for Rocca and Roma injuries derailed his promising career, forcing Rocca to retire at just 26-years-old.

Center-Back: Giacomo Losi

Soncino (Lombardy) | 1955–1969 | 455 Appearances

U21 Football Friendly Italy v Lupa Roma
Giacomino Losi (L) former AS Roma player with grandchild Marco Losi (R).
Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In some ways, Losi was the original Totti or De Rossi, turning down an offer from Inter to remain with the Giallorossi. According to Roma’s official site:

In the spring of 1962, while training with the Italian national side, Inter sporting director Italo Allodi said to him: “I don’t care how much you earn, we’ll give you three times as much. Name your price.”

That loyalty earned him the nickname “The Heart of Rome”. Losi gave all he had for Roma even playing a cup match against Hibernians the day after playing for the Italian national team. That loyalty and technical ability made him an all-time Roma icon.

Center-Back: Sergio Santarini

Rimini (Emilia-Romagna) | 1968–1981 | 431 Appearances

Sergio Santarini

Santarini paired the legendary Losi early in his career before becoming the leader of the back line. He was a fixture along the Roma rearguard for over a decade making 431 appearances for the Giallorossi. Santarini played the libero role, making up for his lack of pace with his exception reading of the game. He also was able to serve as a regista from the back because of his great technical ability.

Midfield: Daniele De Rossi

Rome | 2001-2019 | 616 Appearances

A.S. Roma v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Has anyone battled for the Roma shirt like De Rossi? The Roman was all about grinta and leaving it all on the field. He could’ve easily picked up and left for greener pastures of Manchester City to win a league title, but his loyalty knew no bounds. Unfortunately for De Rossi that meant never winning a Scudetto.

If Totti is the king of Rome, then De Rossi would be his most trusted general. His 616 appearances were second only to his long-time teammate.

Midfield: Giuseppe Giannini

Rome | 1981-1996 | 437 Appearances

Soccer - Italian Serie A - Juventus v Roma Photo by Paul Marriott/EMPICS via Getty Images

The Prince, as he was known throughout his career, very nearly never had a Roma career. Giannini was offered the Milan number ten, only to be pulled out from under the Rossoneri’s nose at the last moment by the Giallorossi. Giannini was an elegant play-maker, who spent 15 seasons with his hometown club. Giannini was a young bystander for the ‘83 Scudetto, but was an important contributor to multiple Coppa Italia trophies thereafter. Towards the end of his career, the Prince of Rome took a young Totti under his wing, laying the groundwork for him to succeed Giannini as Roma’s focal point.

Midfield: Agostino Di Bartolomei

Rome | 1972-1984 | 310 Appearances

Agostino Di Bartolomei

Di Bartolomei was a versatile midfielder, who could play deep in front of the defense or in a more attacking role. He also played sweeper during Roma’s 1983 Scudetto season. Unfortunately, Di Bartolomei will always be remembered as a tragic figure. Suffering from clinical depression after his retirement, Di Bartolomei took his own life—ten years to the day of Roma’s European final loss to Liverpool.

Trequartista: Francesco Totti

Rome | 1992-2017 | 786 Appearances

AS Roma v Torino FC - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This one’s a no-brainer. Roma’s had some great Romans in the side but none better than Totti. Totti is Roma’s all-time leader in appearances and goals. His 307 goals are more than double the next best and he’s second all-time in Serie A history with 250 league goals. He may have only won one Scudetto in his Roma career, but as he's famous for saying, that was like winning ten elsewhere.

Long live the King of Rome!

Forward: Roberto Pruzzo

Crocefieschi (Liguria)| 1978-1988 | 315 Appearances

Liverpool FC v AS Roma - European Cup Final
Roberto Pruzzo of AS Roma celebrates scoring the equalising goal during the UEFA European Cup Final between AS Roma and Liverpool FC held on May 30, 1984 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.
Photo by Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Pruzzo’s Roma career almost never got off the ground. Pruzzo asked to leave the club just six months after his arrival from Genoa. Luckily, Dino Viola had no intention of letting him leave and brought back his good friend Bruno Conti to help make his transition easier. It turned out to be a great move as Pruzzo would lead the league in scoring three times and helped Roma win the 1983 Scudetto and four Coppa Italias. He scored 138 goals in his Roma career, second only to Totti.

Forward: Amadeo Amadei

Frascati (Rome) | 1936–1938, 1939–1948 | 234 Appearances

Amadeo Amadei

Amadei didn’t spend his whole career with the Giallorossi like Totti or De Rossi, but he was the first club icon. With 111 goals in just 234 appearances, Amadei was a lethal scorer. He also set the record (which still stands) for youngest Serie A debut at 15 years, nine months and seven days. He also was part of Roma’s first Scudetto in 1942. Even after leaving Roma for Inter, he still made his way back to the capital to take in the derby in 1948. Just another example of his connection to the club.

When trying to put this team together there were some obvious choices, while others were more difficult. Since Roma has had so many Italians it left a few more difficult decisions than some of our other Best XI pieces where there were fewer players to choose from.

So, we’d love to hear if you would make any changes to this XI. Players like Bruno Conti, Rodolfo Volk, Carlo Ancelotti, and Fulvio Bernardini were tough omissions. Would you have found a place for them?