Were it not for Francesco Totti, this website could very well be called Chiesa di De Rossi, and though that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in the same way, Daniele De Rossi would be no less deserving of the honor than his former teammate. While Francesco Totti is without equal in the eyes of Roma fans, De Rossi comes as close as humanly possible. De Rossi has put as much, if not more, sweat equity into AS Roma as Totti, transforming himself from a skinny, buzzed cut kid into a wall of muscle who patrolled the midfield better than any man on the planet for much of the mid-aughts and early 2010s.
Put simply, while De Rossi’s skillset wasn’t as flashy as Totti’s, and thus didn’t earn as much global acclaim, his impact on the club and his contribution to its history are no less important. Despite the parade of managerial changes, the transitions in ownerships and the club’s always good but not good enough place in the standings, De Rossi was always there. Through it all, despite all that uncertainty, De Rossi was always there standing guard, keeping his beloved club from going completely off the deep end.
And given all that, his legacy and his importance to the people of Rome, it is imperative that Roma handle the end of his career better than the tragedy that was Francesco Totti’s final season. Forcing another club icon into “retirement” won’t sit well with a fanbase long on love and short on patience. (Watch this and tell me that your blood still doesn’t boil.)
Two years ago, Roma averted the spectre of losing Totti and De Rossi in one fell swoop when they signed DDR to a two year extension, one that will expire on June 30, 2019, a/k/a the end of this season. While it was more than a symbolic gesture—De Rossi had rebounded from a couple of down seasons—it nevertheless signaled that the club was finally his and his alone.
While De Rossi is no longer a lock for 2,000+ minutes per season, he has found a bit of a second wind under Eusebio Di Francesco. With everyone from Steven Nzonzi to Bryan Cristante and even Lorenzo Pellegrini available to spell him, De Rossi has seemingly found the sweet spot between what he used to do and what he now needs to do to be successful; the place where his tactical intelligence and years of experience can cover for whatever athleticism he’s lost to father time.
De Rossi has been hampered somewhat by a foot fracture he suffered earlier this season, but the powers that be have seemingly been convinced of his continuing worth and are, per the Gazzetta dello Sport, prepared to re-up with De Rossi for another year. With a one year extension reportedly in the works (no salary figures have been leaked yet, though), De Rossi looks set to hang on with Roma through his 36th birthday.
With over 700 appearances for club and country under his belt, 700 hard charging and tough tackling appearances at that, the simple fact that De Rossi can even hack it in a top five league is a miracle, but this new contract, if indeed it comes to fruition, is more than a honorary title—De Rossi can still ball with the best of them.
Through nine appearances this season, De Rossi is averaging a touch under 60 passes per match, completing 90% of them, while averaging a club leading (for outfield players) 4.4 long balls per match and pacing the club in interceptions.
The 26-year-old De Rossi, the one who could run for 120 minutes, intercept seven passes, make last man tackles without blinking an eye, and score a match winner from 35-yards out is dead and buried, but this older and wiser De Rossi has a veritable PhD in passing, reading and diffusing the game like few others.
Daniele De Rossi is still so integral to everything Roma does in defense and attack and, much like Francesco Totti before him, has earned to right to determine his own fate. So I hope and I pray that James Pallotta and Monchi handle this with more tact that Totti’s “retirement.”
De Rossi can still play, but treasure this man, folks—wear his jersey, sing his praises, watch as he disrupts attack after attack and bask in the love that he has for Roma—because it won’t be long now. That dark day is coming, but let us take a page from De Rossi and rage against the dying of that light.
There will never....never....be another Daniele De Rossi.