Every fan dreams of turning out for the club they support, with many never realising this magic moment. For a small group, this dream becomes a reality and gives birth to a special type of player. A player like Daniele De Rossi.
The 35-year-old has been told by Roma this week that they won’t be renewing his contract, after 615 appearances for the Giallorossi. Only club legend Francesco Totti has more.
Admittedly, the Italian is at the wrong end of 35 and his legs are not what they used to be, but he could easily still do a job in the centre of Roma’s midfield, such is his quality, and has the desire and drive to play for his team and will do whatever he can to help his club succeed.
Ultimately, this attitude defines De Rossi. He fights for every ball, and on many occasions has dragged his team over the finish line through a combination of sheer determination and outstanding ability.
One could argue that De Rossi is the club’s best player currently, and is definitely the one that cares the most as Roma red runs through his veins. That’s what makes the club’s decision not to renew his contract all the more confusing.
The Giallorossi have a turbulent summer ahead as they must find a new manager and give the squad an overhaul to get them challenging at the top of Serie A again – and De Rossi’s experience and leadership would surely have been valuable in the dressing room.
De Rossi deserves recognition for the service he has given to the Rome based club. He has stuck with them through thick and thin, having joined the club’s youth system from his hometown side Ostia Mare, where he surprisingly played as a striker.
De Rossi joined the club when he was 11 years old, and broke into the the first team back in 2001, establishing himself as a key member of the squad. He started as a box-to-box all action midfielder but as age began to take its toll, De Rossi morphed into a deep-lying play-maker, shielding his back-line and launching attacks with his accurate long-range passing. His ability to read the game is second to none, making the decision to cast him aside even more perplexing
Rome is famous as the place where the great Roman Empire was founded and lasted for centuries, partly because of a strong defensive military tradition. And this tradition flows through De Rossi. Like the Romans, he took no prisoners, highlighted by the tattoo emblazoned on his right calf.
But, despite this reputation on the pitch, he is one of football’s nicest guys. The story of how De Rossi gave away his World Cup winners medal just shows the type of man he was. When Pietro Lombardi, the kit man for the Azzuri during their 2006 World Cup triumph, died in 2016, De Rossi insisted Lombardi was buried with his winners medal. A great showing of respect from the hard man.
Ultimately, De Rossi will be missed by the Giallorossi – the board might not know it but the fans do. They know that the 35-year-old has given everything for the club, and has come close to the title on a number of occasions. Despite the fact that the club couldn’t get their hands on the Serie A title, never turned his back on Roma.
Sadly, the club seem to be turning their back on one of their greatest. The Italian should go down as a Roma legend, with the likes of Francesco Totti, and should receive a heart warming reception at their last home game of the season.
He deserves to leave the club on his own terms, rather than being told that he’s no longer wanted. Totti was afforded the opportunity to retire when he felt ready, but De Rossi has been cast out by the club he loves and it’s a decision that, judging by his impromptu press conference on Monday, he is clearly unhappy with.
Il Capitano doesn’t want to leave, that much is clear, and in leaving, Roma have lost their great protector and one of their greatest servants.
It’s often said that you don’t know a good thing until it’s gone, and I have a feeling that the Roma board will be regretting their decision come next season and will be begging De Rossi to come back. But, as he said, he’ll always be there, in the stand, with a beer and a sandwich, singing along with the fans who used to chant his name.