We talk about it some much here at CdT that I’m surprised I don’t have a template or a simple macro worked out, but to many of us so much of what makes Roma special is the special, almost fraternal relationship between the club, the players, the city and the fans. While no one can exemplify that quite like a natural born Roman, every now and then an interloper makes his way into our good graces; we call them adopted Romans; the guys who just get it, the ones who completely buy into the myth and fantasy of the city and the club.
It’s precisely that last point that gutted so many people when Radja Nainggolan was sold earlier this summer. Roma has had a lot of foreign players over the year who seemed to “get it”, but Nainggolan...Nainggolan got it. There was no mistaking his motivation; he wanted to lift Roma up come hell or high water.
While many of us are still trying to cope with that departure, there is another man equally worthy of such praise, and ironically another man who was nearly pushed out the door last year, too. We’re talking, of course, about Kostas Manolas, Roma’s 27-year-old beast of a center back, who in his four prior years with Roma has racked up quite the emotional resume: he’s throttled Juventus players, his sheer speed has made fools out of many attackers who thought they had a clean break at goal, he’s rejected overtures from foreign clubs and, of course, there was the Manolas Miracle that sent Barcelona packing in the Champions League a few months ago.
Point being, Manolas leads and bleeds for this club, and in an interview with ESPN, he confirmed what we’ve long suspected; Manolas is a Roma man through and through.
The future is the fifth year in Rome. If I was not comfortable, I would not be here because I like Roma. I like my life in Rome. My family is good. I will stay. I want to win something. I like to win. I try to win a title. It’s not easy, but I will try hard.
While we can probably chalk the jenky nature of that quote up to a poor translation, Manolas’ actions will always speak louder than his words, and his four seasons with the club have been transformative, as he’s shifted from being a physical freak of nature to one of the better all around defenders in the league.
With Nainggolan gone and with De Rossi’s career winding down, Manolas has become (or is becoming) an unquestioned leader of this club, one who leads by example rather than oration.
And while I probably just damned his future with the club, he is precisely the sort of player who reminds me why I love Roma, and I’ll always be grateful for that no matter where his future takes him.