While I like to think that I have a certain way with words, I have no idea how to begin this. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be writing about sports as a passion project—especially soccer, a sport I hated with a passion growing up—let alone dedicating a decade of my life to the pursuit. But that's precisely what I've done, and today, February 17, 2022, is a rather momentous day for Chiesa di Totti.
Ten years ago today, our humble little digital church sprang forth from the remains of the old Offside network, ushering in a new, more user-friendly era for our Roma-crazed community. Over the past few weeks, we kicked around a few ways to celebrate our 10th birthday. Somehow, replicating my own 10th birthday party—a wild get-together at my local mini-golf/arcade/go-cart track—seemed cost-prohibitive given that our staff is flung all over the continental United States, not to mention our dear old Jonas in Belgium. Besides, at my actual 10th birthday party, my friends and I spent more time hitting golf balls into the street than the hole, and I didn't want to risk losing Jimmy to oncoming traffic or watch in horror as Brandon flipped his go-cart trying to pass Steven on the final lap.
Despite those logistical hurdles, we couldn't simply let our 10th birthday pass unnoticed. While we've expanded our coverage to include podcasts, reader surveys, and even the occasional quiz, the written word has always been our bread and butter.
So, to mark our official passage into double digits, I asked our current crew to pick out some of their favorite pieces from the past decade, providing us a glimpse into their creative process while also reflecting on how the context of those pieces has changed with the passage of time.
And, of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't also take the opportunity to thank everyone who has read, commented, shared, or offered constructive criticism on our work. A community like this is only as strong as its members, and we've always prided ourselves on being one of the most vibrant Roma communities around, and that's all because of you. Whether you're a regular commenter, a lurker, a newbie, a GIF magician, or just someone who stumbled across us by accident, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. This place would literally be nothing without your passion, your celebrations, and yes, even our shared miseries and insecurities.
This has always been a labor of love for us, but make no mistake, it requires a lot of work—work that is done in our spare time. Anyone who has ever contributed to Chiesa di Totti has done so while balancing their Roma passions with their actual, real-world responsibilities. From work to school to new relationships to career changes to transcontinental moves and even new babies (just last week for one of us!), the CdT crew have become experts at this balancing act—as I suspect many of you have while blending your professional responsibilities with your private pursuits. So, to anyone who has ever contributed to our site—whether we remain in contact or not—thank you; for your effort, for your time, for the pride you took in your work, and, most importantly, for helping make Chiesa di Totti what is.
So, without further delay, onto the celebration!
The First Day: February 17, 2012
The newly minted Chiesa di Totti made its debut on February 17, 2012—four days after Roma fell to AC Siena in a bitter 1-0 defeat thanks to an Emanuele Calaio penalty in the 51st minute. The Giallorossi's starting lineup that day featured Maarten Stekelenburg in goal; Jose Angel, Juan, Gabriele Heinze, and Aleandro Rosi in defense; Erik Lamela, Miralem Pjanic and Fabio Simplicio in midfield; Federico Viviani, Fabio Borini and, of course, Francesco Totti in the attack. Bojan Krkic, Simon Kjær, and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo would make appearances off the bench.
Roma was stuck in sixth place when our site debuted that year, and things didn't get much better for Roma that season. With 56 points from 38 matches, Roma finished the 2011-2012 campaign in seventh place; a quick and disappointing end to the Luis Enrique experiment, but it was just the beginning for us.
Our Favorite Features
Like nearly any other community or subculture, we have our own tent poles—rituals, and routines that keep the entire place standing and hopefully provide a warm and familiar welcome to new members. While our matchday coverage has always relied on the steady progression of preview-game-thread-review-highlights, we've tried to establish similar cycles within our broader, non-matchday coverage.
Some of our favorite series include...
- The annual U-23 countdown. Starting in 2014, every summer we comb through a list of two dozen or so U-23 players before ranking the Top 10. Kicking off in late July or early August each summer, the U-23 countdown has become a staple of our pre-season coverage and a marker of the season to come. Just for laughs, check out our first edition; one that included such luminaries as Tin Jedvaj, Juan Iturbe, Antonio Sanabria, and Alessandro Florenzi. We have since expanded our countdown to cover the best and brightest female talents as well, with Annamaria Serturini taking the top honors this past summer.
- Francesco Totti: The Final Season. This was a bitter-sweet series, but when your namesake decides to call it quits (or was forced out, to be more accurate), you have to dedicate as much time as possible to sing his praises. Which we did. And then some. This is without a doubt my favorite series in CdT history, and as painful as it was to watch our hero forcibly removed from the only club he'd ever known, recounting all the highs and lows of his illustrious career was an incredibly rewarding endeavor.
- A Daniele De Rossi Devotion. Unlike Totti before him, the end of De Rossi's Roma career was a bit harder to forecast, so while our coverage wasn't quite as vast, it was no less important.
- A Revisionist History of AS Roma: Where we ask and answer all your What-Ifs.
- The Future Ex-Manager Power Poll. Given how quickly Roma changes managers, it can be incredibly difficult to keep pace; not only with the actual changes but with the names linked to the club seemingly every spring. Starting in 2013, we took a tongue-in-cheek look at the men most likely to be tabbed as Roma's next ex-manager. God willing, this series will die a quick death once Daniele De Rossi assumes the mantle as Roma’s next manager; a post he won't relinquish until he's old and gray.
- Ranking Roma's Roster: From Irrelevant to Indispensable Starting in the spring of 2019, we took on the daunting task of ranking Roma's roster based on their importance to the “project” of the day. By separating the wheat from the chaff, we hoped to highlight the true pillars of Roma's roster every season—a task we turned over to you last year. Look for this year's edition in late April or early May.
- Across the Romaverse. Our new podcast, which we began in the depths of the pandemic's first year, has become a staple of our coverage, matchday or otherwise.
- Chiesa di Totti Library and Reference Guide: A living document and one-stop source for all our acronyms, nicknames, and idioms.
- Totti Today, formerly Totti Tuesday: An intermittent slice of the Roma life that's been with us every step of the way. And it all started right here.
- AS Roma Decade in Review: We celebrated the end of the 2010s by naming Roma's best players, best kits, and more from the decade gone by. Definitely a fun series!
- Other Teams We Love: Because it can't be all Roma, all the time.
- Primavera Deep Dive: Not all of Roma's wunderkinds spark joy.
Alright, onto the good stuff; some of our favorite pieces ever!
Ten Stories (And Then Some) to Celebrate Ten Years of Chiesa di Totti
As much as we tried, we couldn't limit this list to only 10 pieces, so please enjoy this trip down memory lane, with updated comments from the authors where applicable.
Published on August 19, 2013, by bren.
In his last full season in charge of CdT, Chris, a/k/a Marten Portoise, tasked us to take a different slant on our season previews that summer. And thank goodness he did because this is one of my favorite pieces and the one I send to people who ask how I got my start writing about Roma. While I wish I had a more exciting tale to tell, my Roma origin story was about as haphazard as they come, owing itself to a random encounter in the Sydney airport, an excited new friend and a few dozen kilometers.
Published on July 6, 2019, by ssciavillo
This was a fun one to write–a story of my courtship by Roma as I neared my own wedding day. How many of you have had a similar journey?
Published on April 10, 2019, by Jimmy Miotto
Even before I started writing for CdT In 2015, it was clear to me that the Roma of the 21st century was in a gray area as a football club. Roma is too big and too popular a club to have anything but great expectations, but Roma is also too poor to fulfill those expectations in the way a super-club like Manchester United or Real Madrid can. This article is one of my favorites that I’ve written for Chiesa Di Totti simply because it gets at the heart of the joy and pain that is being a Romanista in the 21st century.
So much grief amongst Romanisti comes from the fact that even with The Friedkin Group now owning the Giallorossi, Roma’s finances are still at least one tier below the biggest clubs in the world. Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way, which is why I keep on writing for CdT. It’s why I watch every Roma match without fail, as frustrating as they may be. It’s why we have such a lively fanbase on this site, and it’s why Roma has such a lively fanbase worldwide. In a roundabout way, this article speculating about a Qatari-owned Roma sums up the Roma experience more than a match preview or tactical analysis ever could. That’s why it stands out to me from all the articles I’ve published on this website.
Published on March 27, 2012, by JonAS Roma
You never forget your first one, don’t you? Girlfriend, PlayStation, Pokémon card, wet dre...Anyway, we go waaay back for this one, March 2012. The first post of a 23-year-old version of myself. Totti Tuesday, I came up with that name all by myself. It eventually changed to Totti Today (much easier than being tied to a Tuesday release date).
A bunch of nostalgia to be found: Sabatini, Loria, Burdisso, Riise, Borriello, Marquinho, DiBenedetto, Cassetti, I even saw an Ace of Base reference! Good times, I was still a student those days so of course I had a lot of spare time back then. It’s unbelievable ten years have passed.
Oh, here’s a great tip btw: the best sangria you can find in Faro, Portugal. On the rooftop bar of Hotel Faro & Beach Club, it’s right next to the port. You can thank me later.
Speaking of firsts...
Published on October 3, 2017, by ssciavillo
This is far from my best or most groundbreaking piece I’ve ever written. Time flies and I can’t believe I’ve been with CDT for 4 ½ years already and written almost 700 pieces. Nevertheless, it was the first piece I ever wrote for the site back in October ‘17 and you never forget your first time. And, yes, I still maintain my claim at the time that Radja should’ve been a Belgian NT regular at the time.
Published on August 4, 2013, by bren.
This one has lost a bit of its relevance since Totti “retired”, but back in the day, I constantly found myself having to explain to soccer neophytes what made Totti so special, so I do what I always do: lean on analogies. From Derek Jeter to Sidney Crosby to Tim Duncan, there were no shortage of American Franceso Totti facsimiles. But, as you can probably guess, none of them could actually hold a candle to Er Pupone.
Published on May 5, 2016, by JonAS Roma
This is the ‘Mourinho’ of my blog history, the Special One. I wrote it right before I would travel to Rome in 2016. I bought tickets for Roma-Chievo and that was my first (and till today only) visit to the Stadio Olimpico. Roma cruised to victory and won 3-0, my fellow Belgian Radja scored. I saw De Rossi, Salah, Florenzi, Pjanic, Strootman, Manolas, and of course his Holiness Francesco.
He started on the bench but thank God Spalletti subbed him on for Salah around the hour mark so I could at least witness 30 magical minutes of Il Bimbo d’Oro. It was quite a packed Olimpico, the sun was shining and the crowd chanted Totti’s name when he came on. And of course, after the whistle, I sang Roma Roma Roma. Such a special moment. One of my best holidays, no doubt.
Only one year later, in 2017, Totti would make his final appearance and quit football. I’m so damn lucky to have seen him play live before he retired.
Published on October 1, 2018, by ssciavillo
I’ve been a Lorenzo Pellegrini fan from his time at Sassuolo–knowing that he was Roma’s next great Roman hope. Unfortunately, his Roma career didn’t get off to a flying start, but despite his many detractors, I continued to insist that he would come good. This Derby performance gave those claims a leg to stand on and even though the next season or so was up and down for Lolo, my faith was eventually rewarded. Pellegrini has developed into a star for Roma over the last season and a half, representing the club proudly with the captain’s armband. Hopefully, this was the first of many Derby-winning performances from Pellegrini.
Published on March 31, 2014, by bren
Antonio Cassano is the great What If in AS Roma history. While Roma fans likely experienced a bit of schadenfreude watching Cassano flameout at Real Madrid, his subsequent return to Serie A, though dramatic, was pretty productive. On the eve of his return with Parma in the spring of 2014, I attempted to unravel the mystery that was Antonio Cassano. The results were, shall we say, mixed but this particular thought exercise was a joy to write.
Published on April 10, 2018, by ssciavillo
This has to be the proudest ever I’ve ever felt writing for CdT. This was my soapbox moment. Despite getting throttled at the Camp Nou in the first leg of their quarterfinal match-up with Barcelona, I still wanted to see Roma go for it in the second leg. I listed off my reasons, and luckily for all Romanisti, EDF was on the same page. Roma did go for it. And as they say, the rest is history, as the Giallorossi had their biggest moment for anyone, like myself, who started following the club post-2001 Scudetto season.
Make sure you listen to our podcast episode on this historic moment, too!
Published on May 23, 2017, by bren
As part of our ode to Totti during his final season, I wrapped up the season by trying to answer the one question that plagued Totti throughout his career: Why didn't he win more trophies? The answer was equal parts average teammates (with few exceptions, of course), organizational instability (to put it mildly), and his unflinching loyalty to Roma.
Speaking of which...
A question so intriguing, we asked it twice: First on March 30, 2017 (by JonAS Roma) and May 11, 2020 (by bren).
This idea was simply too fun not to explore twice. Jonas set the table and I cleared it off by examining the financial aspects of the deal: how expensive would Real's lineup have been? Who could Roma have purchased with the funds from that sale? Would Totti steal the number 10 from Zidane?
Published on May 15, 2019, by JonAS Roma
Another punch in the balls. It was about Daniele’s sour farewell. Another Roman leaving the ship. While everyone knows Totti was the king, De Rossi was perhaps a bit more special to me. Why? Because I started following AS Roma when he was just a kid, 2002ish. Totti was already a Scudetto winner and the undisputed captain while Daniele still had pimples. I literally saw him evolving into a world-class DM who won the World Cup with Italy and who could have joined Real or Manchester in his prime. But yet he stayed true to his one love: AS Roma. Just like Totti.
For 17 years we shared the ups and downs of our beloved Giallorossi. The 3-0 win vs Barcelona, the Coppa Italia final vs Lazio, the Mancini goal vs Lyon, Monchi, Sensi’s, James Pallotta and many more. All of that came to an end in May 2019 against Parma, after more than 600 games. Legend. And boy do I still miss him.
Published on November 11, 2020, by bren
It’s not every day you can definitively say who is the best player in team history, but when it comes to Roma, we can. You have Francesco Totti on the men's side and the pony-tailed dynamo that is Annamaria Serturini on the women's side. Granted, we're comparing 90+ years of history to four, but Serturini has been the gold standard for the Giallorosse through their first four years in existence.
The CdT Alumni Catalog
We've had a lot of contributors come and go over the years, here are a few of the best from our esteemed alumni. (Synopses by bren)
Published on August 9, 2015, by Sam Straya
AS Roma inspires a fevered infatuation that defies its mediocre on-field results. This comes not from a scholarly appreciation of the art of calcio but the fierce coupling of the club and the identity of the Eternal City’s citizens. In a country teeming with tribalism and political factionism, calcio provides an uncannily accurate portrayal of the battle of the elite verses the rest.
Roma does not have the money or external prestige of its noisy northern rivals. It does not have a history of constructing all-star squads of the planet’s finest footballers. What it has instead is a proud record of producing home grown superstars. Roman born and bred players that make their way through the junior ranks to earn a spot on the field of their childhood idols...
Multi billion dollar television deals, sporting apparel sponsorships and player transfer prices above the GDP of developed nations has created a chasm between sporting teams and their original roots.
AS Roma has attempted to forestall the irresistible powers of the modern sporting world like a fisherman clinging to his rock as the waves crash around him.
Today, that fisherman has been swept to sea.
He is dead.
This piece took on new life once Romagnoli revealed himself to be a closet Lazio fan, but as one of Roma's best and brightest young players, and one link in an impressive chain of players sold during the Pallotta regime, Sam couldn't help but wonder what this meant for the future of our beloved Roma.
And believe, no piece in the history of our site has produced this much controversy. We caught hell for this thanks to Romagnoli’s now-infamous selfie, but this remains one of the most beautifully written pieces in our site's history.
Published on June 18, 2019, by dallagente
If you don’t like a sport, no one is saying you must watch it. I have found things to love about the Roma women’s team - and football itself - that men’s football either never could or no longer can provide. But whether I or you choose to watch the game is hardly the biggest obstacle for women’s football to confront today.
We’re talking about a side of football that has proven time and again: the audiences are there. Audience has rarely ever been a problem for women’s calcio. Nor has Italy shown itself - through history - a country where maschilismo reigns at the expense of taking risks.
Italian sport has often piooneered women’s football for the best part of the sport’s existence. Admittedly those risks were finally taken in times where it was most opportune to do so for all - how could we expect otherwise? - but the Italian scene didn’t back down from ever trying to strike while the iron is hot.
What the game has done, time and again, is stumble just when the momentum was built. How would that be any different from the gripes we have on the men’s side of the game?
Ever the master of AS Roma history, dallagente did a wonderful job walking us through the modern development of women's football in Italy, particularly the role Roma and Romans have played in its successes, failures, and recoveries.
Published on May 26, 2017, by AsRemus
As planned, Totti retired from the national team after raising the world cup. It would be his greatest achievement as a player, alongside his solitary scudetto with Roma. Although he would flirt with an Azzurri return for years to come, he never took the bait from wanting coaches. Surely, he knew he could never recapture the glory of 2006. When looking back at all the obstacles in his way, fans will remember the Eternal Captain’s road to victory with Italy as a testament of his will. Not only did he participate in the tournament at less than 100%, but he also was a vital component in the team’s success. While Giallorossi fans would have loved for the King of Rome to hold a champions league cup, the FIFA World Cup Trophy will forever be Francesco Totti’s greatest accomplishment.
Another piece from our year-long dedication to Totti's final season, one of our more narrative writers took us through Totti's tumultuous 2006; a year that began with a devastating injury and ended in absolute elation.
Published on December 15, 2016, by Thomas More
It’s not football, and it’s especially not soccer, it’s calcio. Calcio, the word itself, is more than a colloquialism however, it is the first indicator of the exceeding independence of Italian football. Calcio, again, the word, is the starting point of a culture all to itself. For example: what most of the world call a rabona, calcio calls a incrociata (“crossed kick”). Panenka? In calcio it is the colpo a cucchiaio (“spoon shot”). Rovesciata (from the verb rovesciare meaning upside-down): a bicycle kick. But the dichotomy of football versus calcio is more innate than regional lexicon. What transmogrifies calcio are terms like bandiera (“the flag barrier,” a one club man) and libero (“free,” the #6 who was free to roam and shore up any chinks in the defense’s armor) which lend to its culture. However, at the heart of calcio lives its most vaunted and mythological figure; the trequartista*.
Thomas gave us a quick glimpse at not only the etymology of the word trequartista but its cultural significance, tactical importance, and its slow death from the game itself. A sad tale but a lovely read!
Published on July 27, 2018, by AsRemus
However, the break turns out to be atrocious. It is a slow, unpredictable left (wave direction goes either right or left) and it soon becomes apparent that we have made the wrong choice. As I bob on my board in the lineup (the outside where one waits for waves), I think about Daniele De Rossi, Strootman, Florenzi, and the many others who I have longed to see. I should be there, touching the crest at my breast, shouting, “Daje”!
By the time we leave the beach the training session is long over. We are hungry and our friend suggests a sandwich shop, which coincidentally turns out to be in Little Italy. Passerby wear the deep Roma red and Italian flags flutter in the coastal breeze. “Forza Roma,” I yell out the car. My spirits begin to rise and the guilt over having skipped the training subsides. At the deli, we observe posters of the 2006 Italian team. Totti grins at us.
This is undoubtedly the best first-person piece we've ever published. It's a tale that includes disappointing beach breaks, hostile security guards, Luca Pellegrini, and as much alcohol as their stomachs could absorb.
Published on January 15, 2016, by Marten Portoise
Falling in love is one of the most terrifying annexes of the human condition. It is to remove one’s own heart, watching, gazing as its walls morph into the thinnest of glass, every harrowing beat threatening to shatter this mystic muscle, place it upon a table, and with trembling hands, offer another human being a hammer. Do you understand what courage that takes? Do you? Stand back. Wait. Love. Fear. Live. Ask them to protect it. Trust this entombment of human fallibility to be your guardian. Allow another to become a permanent extension of yourself. Tremble in the culmination of them all. Tremble because it is war with reason, with logic, with everything wise and sensible in this world. It is to know that you incur the wrath of ultimate suffering; to know that if that hammer is swung, every fiber of your being will shatter along with that glass; to know that you may pick up the pieces, but you can never really get them all; to know that inevitably, you will never be truly whole again. It is to dance most dangerously with fate, but it is the most worthy dance of all, because love is the only thing in this mortal world worth both living for and dying for.
And somewhere, someone just handed all of our glass hearts to one Luciano Spalletti...once again.
It was the dead of winter 2016 and there was only one thing—one person—that could possibly have rousted Marten from his self-imposed slumber: the return of Luciano Spalletti. As only he could, Chris wove a tale of heartache, fate, and hope upon Spalletti's triumphant return to Roma.
And no, I don't know where he is or what he's currently doing. (Or maybe I do, and I'm playing coy.)
As much as I struggled to kick this thing off, wrapping it up is proving just as difficult. How do you summarize ten years of your life? Ten years of spending nearly every free moment you have writing about a club that punishes more than it pleases. Ten years of waking up at ungodly hours for lunchtime kickoffs in Italy, ten years of putting off weekend chores until the final whistle, ten years of racing home from work to catch the second half of a Champions League match (I do miss that one. Sigh), ten years of trying to explain to friends and family exactly what a Chiesa di Totti is, and ten years of hoping Roma would finally pick a project and go with it.
As much as this is a celebration of all the people who have contributed to the site over the years, and of all of you, our dear readers, I can't help but end this on a selfish note. And we tried really hard not to make this self-aggrandizing (I promise) but I'm talking about 10 years of my life here, you guys. Ten. Years.
I started this gig one advanced degree, two cars, three laptops, two pets, three new nieces and/or nephews, 60 some odd pounds, and seven jobs ago—one of which I got fired from after my boss caught me updating the CdT Facebook page on company time, but it was a Rodrigo Taddei story, so, I mean, you can understand the dilemma I was facing!
That's a lot of upheaval, but the one constant in my life has been this digital church; a safe haven I found completely by accident sometime around 2008 or so, back when it was The Roma Offside. And how could I have known that a simple search for “Lukas Podolski Roma transfer” would have such a profound impact on my life?
And it's not even the big, life-changing moments either. Not long after I took over control of the site, I was dating a graphic designer who, upon seeing Roma's new logo, immediately pointed out that the kerning—the space between the letters—was slightly askew between the R and O in the new badge. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last, but it was proof positive that this club, this site, and this side job had infiltrated nearly every facet of my life.
While we're at it, how about another Roma dating aside? I once met a woman for coffee who turned out to be a dyed-in-the-wool Lazio fan. As you can imagine, that was quite an awkward encounter. And it went something like this:
Me: Oh, cool, you like Italian soccer!? What team?
Her: Lazio. Have you ever heard of them?
Me: Blank stare
Her: Wait, you write about Serie A, don't you? Which team?
I've long since lost track of how many pieces I've published on here (a safe bet would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,700-3,000, give or a take few hundred) but I've watched in astonishment as our community has grown over the years. And as frustrating as it can be covering this team as closely as we do—and that act alone changes the way you think and interact with all things Roma, trust me—this has undoubtedly been one of the greatest joys of my life.
I cannot imagine the past decade of my life without this site, the staff, and all of you. This community has made this club, which otherwise would have been some abstract concept, a source of pride, and running this site has become a central part of my life.
So here we are 10 years (and now an additional 5,000 words) later and all I can really say is thank you; sincerely and completely. Thank you for helping turn a passing curiosity into an all-encompassing passion.
My life wouldn't be the same without it, so thank you, and here's to another ten years!
See you in 2032.