If you’d ask me to list three of my favorite AS Roma games of all time, then surely the three-nil win in Valencia in the 2003 Champions League tops them all. It was my first real encounter with the club, fans and players. And, oh my, what a magnificent kit they wore that evening! Of course, another memorable game is the 3-0 comeback against Barcelona not so long ago. No further explanation needed, we all witnessed a miracle that day.
The third one? Pretty easy in my case. The historical 6-2 win against Inter in the final of the Coppa Italia 2007, 13 years ago in May. It was the home leg and after this result, the Coppa was basically in the bag for Roma, making the return leg in Milan virtually redundant. It was just one of those magical matches where everything fit like a glove, everyone performs 100%, and everything they did was successful, on and off the pitch.
Let’s take a look at Luciano Spalletti’s formation.
Doni; Panucci; Mexes (1’ s.t. Cassetti); Ferrari; Chivu; De Rossi; Pizarro (40’ s.t. Tonetto); Mancini; Perrotta; Taddei (30’ s.t. Aquilani); Totti
Ah yes, the strikerless 4-6-0 lineup which worked like a charm. Just for a reminder, let’s also check the lineup from Inter.
Toldo; Maicon; Cordoba; Materazzi; Maxwell (22’ s.t. Grosso); Stankovic; Dacourt; J.Zanetti; Figo (6’ s.t. Vieira); Adriano (13’ s.t. Recoba); Crespo
Well, that’s an all star ensemble right there. This makes the 6-2 scoreline even more special. Just look at the names and their reputation. Figo, Maicon, Maxwell, Zanetti, Adriano, Stankovic, Crespo; This was no Lecce, Cluj or Wolfsberger but some of the best of the best.
Roma’s players (apart from Totti) were at the time less renowned worldwide, but as a whole, as a team, they simply overran Mancini’s Inter.
So, what happened with all of them after May 9th, 2007?
Doni: Donieber Alexander Marangon stayed at Roma for four more seasons after the 6-2, even winning a second Coppa Italia in 2008 like most of the other guys. A controversial figure to say the least, but far from the gallery of Roma’s worst goalkeepers. Between 2009 and 2011 he disappeared due to the renaissance of a certain Julio Sergio Bertagnoli.
Doni was sold to Liverpool in 2011 but it wasn’t a personal success for him. He rarely featured in the first team, playing second fiddle to club hero Pepe Reina. To make matters worse, he suffered a heart attack in the summer of 2012 which condemned his entire 2012-2013 season.
Doni left Europe and joined Brazilian side Botafogo in 2013 but retired only one year later due to aforementioned heart problems.
Christian Panucci: Known as GOMR at Chiesa, aka Grumpy Old Man River. One of my favorite players. Scored twice that evening. In 2007, at the age of 34, he was still a commanding presence at right back. He also scored 10 goals in Serie A between 2006-2008. Christian would remain at Roma until 2009, as the perfect backup right-back, before joining Parma for one more season. He retired in 2010.
Panucci didn’t hesitate to start a second career in football, this time as a trainer. He reunited with Fabio Capello and became his assistent for the Russian NT for the World Cup 2014. Later he accepted jobs at smaller clubs like Livorno and Ternana.
His most recent spell was as head coach of the Albanian NT, which he left in 2019. Panucci had a damn mighty career, playing for Milan, Inter, Chelsea, Real and Roma. Who knows if we’ll ever see him return to Roma in the coaching staff?
Philippe Mexes: You thought Manolas or Osvaldo were hotheads? You clearly haven’t met Philippe Mexès then. Mexès was at the peak of his powers in 2007 as a 25-year-old and one of Serie A’s most inspiring centrebacks. Yeah, he was a nutcase, but he was OUR nutcase. A special kind of breed but a fan favorite for sure.
Like Doni, Philippe left Roma in 2011 but he joined rivals AC Milan, which wasn’t the best PR move he could do but who could blame him? Milan just won the Scudetto and Mexès immediately won his first trophy at Milan that same summer, the Supercoppa in 2011.
Too bad it was his only prize in five seasons with the Rossoneri. He retired after only 5 Serie A appearances in 2015-2016.
Matteo Ferrari: I bet this name is the least ‘likeable’ of all players for most fans, compared to a Taddei, Pizarro, Mexes or Mancini. Once hailed as Italy’s next great CB with Parma, Ferrari’s career at Roma was filled with ups and downs. However, he did win three prizes at Roma. He was brought in to replace ‘the Wall’ Samuel (who went to Real Madrid) so you can bet the pressure was huge on Matteo.
Ferrari stayed for one more season after 2007, winning his second Coppa at Roma and his third in total (he also won a Coppa at Parma). His contract expired in 2008 and Matteo didn’t renew it so 1 + 1 =2 (yes I’m a genius), Ferrari left Rome.
Genoa, Besiktas and Montreal Impact were his next (exotic) destinations, winning the Turkish Cup (it seems Matteo has a thing with national cups) with Besiktas. Ferrari called it a day in 2014 after winning two championships in Canada but I think a lot of people expected more of the next ‘Fabio Cannavaro’.
Cristian Chivu: Ready for some pain? Chivu was a classy CB/LB, perhaps one of most talented Roma has ever had. I remember his transfer from Ajax was a real battle, full of controversy because supposedly Roma didn’t have enough cash to convince Ajax.
Chivu joined Roma in 2003 but never reached his full potential due to different injuries and setbacks. His only trophy was the Coppa in 2007. However, not long after that Coppa final in 2007, Cristian joined the arch enemy and Roma’s Scudetto rival: Inter. He signed a five year contract. Now let’s see what Chivu won with the Nerazzuri:
3x Scudetto, 2x Coppa, 2x Supercoppa, 1x Champions League, 1x FIFA Club World Cup.
Ain’t that a bitch. After six seasons Chivu retired at Inter at only 33 years of age.
Marco Cassetti: Cassetti (which means ‘drawers’ in Italian) was a hardworking RB, a likable guy. Perhaps not the most gifted or talented of all, but one hell of a team player, more than decent in his job and one with approx. 200 appearances for AS Roma with his iconic number 77 shirt. And who can forget that special head tackle while laying on his back or his goal in the derby, celebrating by demolishing the billboards in the Olimpico. God, I love you Marco.
His Roman career was his piece de resistance though since it was his only big club. 2006-2007 was his first season in Roma so the Coppa was a nice entry. Remained five more seasons at Roma until 2012. After that two years at Watford (of all teams) before he called it quits in 2016 at Como, being almost 40 years.
Daniele De Rossi: I think a lot has already been said about Daniele so I won’t elaborate too much. Back in 2007, as a 23-year-old, Daniele was taking Serie A and Europe by storm. He just won a World Cup with Italy and now a Coppa Italia after scoring in the final. Many were sure: Daniele was destined to win his first Scudetto soon, alongside Francesco Totti.
Alas, it was never meant to be. As we all know, Daniele stayed until 2019 but the Coppa in 2008 was his last trophy at Roma. A handful of appearances for Boca Juniors followed but that was just a tiny footnote for Daniele. AS Roma will always be his first and only club for the rest of his life.
I really hope we see him back soon in Rome. He deserved at least one title during his Roman legacy.
David Pizarro: Il Pek. A small but smart, technically gifted midfielder. A dream pair with De Rossi in Spalletti’s 4-2-3-1 formation. Luciano really, really, REALLY wanted him to come to Rome. He knew David well from his time at Udinese. Just like Cassetti, this was Pizarro’s first season at Roma and fans immediately fell in love with the little Chilean.
Pizarro was the brains in this formation, even more so than Pjanic or Pellegrini after him. And he only got started in 2007. Fans enjoyed five more seasons of Pizarro’s passing before he got loaned out to Manchester City in January 2012. Luis Enrique clearly was a fan of the much younger Pjanic.
Painful detail: City won the Premier League 2011-2012 but Pizarro didn’t receive a winner’s medal because he didn’t play enough official matches.
Pizarro returned to Roma after six months in England but quickly moved to Fiorentina instead. David was still going strong and enjoyed a nice spell in Tuscany, playing three full seasons. Thanks to this, Pizarro also made a comeback with his NT between 2013-2015 under Sampaoli.
In 2015, he left Europe and went back to his homeland Chili (clubs Santiago and Universidad). And so David has come full circle after a career spanning more than 20 years.
Mancini: The wonderboy. Between 2005 and 2007 Mancini was a menace on the wing and he scored one of the six goals in the Coppa final. Every tifoso remembers his stepover goal against Lyon the CL. His last season at Roma (2007-2008) was maybe not his best but he still managed 10+ goals in all competitions.
Just like Chivu, Mancini had the nasty habit of joining Inter but, unlike Chivu, it didn’t go down so well. January 2010 he visited the other half of Milan and stayed at AC for six months.
In 2011 there was the rape accusation for which he was found guilty. A handful of clubs in Brazil between 2011-2016 but nothing worth nothing. In 2019 he was appointed manager of Serie D side Foggia... for one month. So uh yeah, it got downhill pretty fast for Mancini after he left Rome.
Simone Perrotta: 2006-2007 was already Simone’s third season of his Roman career, which lasted from 2004 up until 2013. Perrotta was undoubtedly a starter those days and scored in both legs against Inter.
The perfect player in the ‘hole’ of Spalletti’s formation and what a chemistry with the others like Taddei, De Rossi, Totti and Mancini. Box-to-box, central, defensive, attack-minded, wide role. During all those years I witnessed so many smart runs, combinations and movements from Simone. One of the most underrated players in football for sure.
Fans adored Perrotta but Perrotta also loved AS Roma. His mind was clear: He would never leave the club and stay put until the very end. He stayed in Rome until his retirement in 2013. Perhaps not a sad day as with Totti or DDR, but damn close if you’d ask me.
Rodrigo Taddei: Boy, the fan favorites just keep coming, don’t they? This time it’s the Willem Dafoe of football.
I sound like a broken record but this was once again a vital cog of Spalletti’s machine, thanks to his versatility. He even played fullback from time to time. The ideal team player. Brazilian flair mixed with down to earth, hard work and motivation. Until his final day in 2014 a popular figure in Rome, then he left as a free agent and joined Serie B side Perugia.
Want to feel bad in two seconds? Rodrigo Taddei finished runner-up five times in Serie A at Roma. You’re welcome.
Max Tonetto: Tonetto was brought in as a 32-year-old in 2006 without a lot of expectations (he signed a contract for two years) but was a bull’s eye. Max had decent spells at Lecce and Sampdoria but his four seasons at Roma were arguably his best.
He prolonged his contract once more late 2007 and in June 2010, when his contract was about to expire, before he retired from football at the age of 35. Too bad most people link Tonetto with the missed penalty vs Arsenal in 2008 but Max definitely was one of the best transfer deals in Roma’s history.
Alberto Aquilani: Warning, drama incoming! This started as a fairytale, the next big thing after Totti and De Rossi, but it got an entirely different outcome. His rise to fame was short and sweet but the road to ruin was long and hard...
2006-2007 wasn’t Alberto’s best compared to the previous two seasons. We all know Aquilani was made of glass and prone to injury, but damn, the kid was talented as hell. Unfortunately Roma decided it was better to sell a 25-year-old Aquilani and in 2009 Liverpool took him over for about €20 million.
Ironically, Aquilani played for Liverpool, Juventus & Milan between 2009 and 2012 and didn’t win a single prize, always being one year too early or too late for celebrations. He also missed Roma’s spectacular 2009-2010 Scudetto pursuit.
Luckily for him, he found some consistency at Fiorentina between 2012 and 2015 but afterwards Alberto started another road trip with four clubs in four years in three different countries. Las Palmas in 2018 was his last club; after they got relegated in La Liga, Aquilani was released from his contract.
Eventually King Alberto retired in 2019 after not finding a new club... Hmm say what? Why are my eyes so wet? Hey, who’s peeling onions in here?!
Francesco Totti: Guess I saved the best for last! The ‘striker’ in Luciano’s 4-2-3-1, the best Roman player ever and my man crush since I first saw daylight in 1988. Totti won the European Golden Shoe after 26 goals in Serie A that season and topped it off with a Coppa Italia victory. He scored in the first minute that match.
This was already Totti’s fifteenth season at Roma but he wasn’t done and dusted yet. He would go on for TEN more years, until 2017 which was his swan song. And we all know how things ended.
Immediately after his “retirement” he accepted a job as club director but in the end it was only a smokescreen from the management who didn’t want to upset the fans. Totti felt he wasn’t appreciated by the suits and was not enough involved in Roma’s plans.
He held one hell of a press conference, blasted James Pallotta and said goodbye to his one true love, AS Roma. Well, at least until Pallotta is kicked out of Rome. He’ll come back one day, I’m sure.
Well that’s it. We’ve covered every member of the Coppa Italia final 2007. What strikes me is that only one guy (Chivu) left right after the victory and all the others stayed/weren’t sold, which seems almost unthinkable these days.
Don’t forget this was a squad that ended second in Serie A for the second consecutive time and just won a Coppa Italia, its first prize since the 2001 Scudetto. Plus they were a regular in the Champions League. No wonder expectations were getting higher for the Giallorossi. Too bad they didn’t get to celebrate a Scudetto.
I’m glad a lot of them remained at the club for many years as it was one of the finest generations of footballers in Roman history.