Nemanja Matic. 34 going on 35. A professional footballer since 2006. A midfielder made from a mix of concrete, granite, kryptonite, the blood of Kratos, and Kevlar. Apprentice of José Mourinho. For the third time in his career, Matic followed Mourinho to another football, following stops at Chelsea and Manchester United. And the third stop in this special relationship isn't showing any signs of weakness yet. Quite the contrary, actually.
By now, we can all agree that Nemanja Matic is the Tom Cruise of football. The man simply does not seem to age and continues to amaze the world with his performances, even in the autumn of his career. While we thought he would mainly be used as a rotational piece, a super-sub, and an experienced leader in the locker room, Matic has turned into an undeniable starter and pillar of Mourinho’s side.
The Serb has already amassed more than 40 games so far and could potentially reach 50+ appearances before the end of the 2022-2023 season. Matic hasn’t reached those figures since 2018, his first season at Man U. It goes to show Mourinho has a lot of faith in his First Lieutenant. Always gives 100%, is a pain in the ass for every opponent, and stands at a towering 6’4”. Whatever Smalling means to our defense, it’s the same as Matic to our midfield: a veteran who’s the first one to lead his troops to war. A true example for the younger lads like Bove, Tahirovic, and Faticanti.
It comes as no surprise that Matic’s contract will automatically be renewed for another season, as he has made more than enough appearances to justify this extension. He has not only surprised us with proven quality and golden mentality but also his physical condition. Matic is a beast and rarely injured or tired. Surely he must be drinking from the Fountain of Youth on a daily basis.
After only one season, Matic already belongs on the same list as Daniele De Rossi, Simone Perrotta, David Pizarro, Seydou Keita, Damiano Tommasi, Henrik Mhkitaryan, etc. Midfielders who aged gracefully in Rome while remaining vital to the club's success. It’s such a shame Nemanja didn’t join us sooner. Imagine a prime Matic in Serie A, say 27 or 28 years old, playing six or seven seasons in Rome.
If we’re lucky, then Matic will have another stellar season in 2023-2024 but after that? Could he possibly keep this up until he’s 37 or 38? Maybe. It’s not impossible if he remains healthy and in decent shape. Speed and explosiveness were never his strong points anyway.
He has more than decent technique, excellent stamina, and football IQ and is tough as nails, including razor-sharp tackles. A warrior similar to De Rossi. One could say Roma got the best possible version of Matic so far, as Serie A seems perfect for him, and after almost 600 official games, Nemanja has been through some battles before. Let’s say back at Chelsea, he was Charmander/Charmeleon and now Roma suddenly got a Charizard in their hands without having to train him for weeks, waiting to evolve.
But what if Mourinho decides to leave this summer? Will Matic follow his mentor one last time? Will he return to one of his former clubs? Or will he end his career in Rome? Become a youth coach?
So many questions.
It’s crazy to think Matic has been with us for only ten months. It sure feels like he’s been around longer because he acts like a leader on and off the pitch like he was born in Rome 35 years ago.
After all this, did I already mention Roma got Matic FOR FREE? Fact 1. Fact 2: Age? It’s only a number. Behold: Nemanja Matic. The Tom Cruise/Charizard hybrid of footballers.
Now can someone get Pinto a time machine, please?