As dramatic comebacks go, not many can top Mattia Destro’s for Roma. The scene was set against Fiorentina, the score finely poised at 1-1. Then the moment the Olimpico had been building for arrived, when Destro stepped onto the pitch for his first appearance of the season. Not 10 minutes later, he would emphatically fire home the winner, in doing so consigning 10 months of persistent knee problems to distant memory.
It was fitting the 22-year-old was facing fellow surgery-victim Giuseppe Rossi that day in December, for the way he announced himself back from the dead with a bang. Both had glittering futures cruelly curtailed by injury, but still neither allowed their careers to fall by the wayside. To Destro, it had been like a weight lifted from his shoulders to be playing under the Curva again. “The only thing that mattered to me was getting back on to the field, as I really couldn’t take it anymore,” he blurted in relief. “To score a goal as well was just wonderful. I was out for such a long time, but it’s all behind me now and I am back.”
Destro’s triumphant return continued as he showed the Giallorossi exactly what they had been missing upfront to that point. Consecutive strikes versus Milan and Catania made it three in three for the rejuvenated striker, his return coinciding with all sorts of renewed promise for Roma’s campaign. Rudi Garcia’s men forged ahead, undeterred even after they had their wings clipped by Juventus, as Destro weighed in with another three goals subsequently to keep his side’s title hopes alive.
The starlet’s brace last weekend against Sampdoria points to a player ready to step up to the plate of delivering results for his team. Roma were seeking to issue a riposte after being bundled out of the Coppa Italia by Napoli. Destro put the capital outfit into the driver’s seat via a header on the stroke of half-time, before then producing a perfect pirouette and finish that Gianluca Vialli would have been proud of.
Pressed about emulating the Calcio great afterwards, the former Inter and Genoa youth replied in humble deference: ”A career like his would be a dream. My celebration was an expression of anger, as I wanted to score after what happened at Napoli. We have come under criticism but reacted the right way, proving our worth on the field.”
Expanding influence and growing mental attributes aside, Destro is just the latest player to be reborn on the pitch under Garcia. The fledgling bomber has proven a valid alternative to Francesco Totti leading Roma’s line since returning, enabling his teammates to get closer to their opponents’ goal by offering a penalty box presence and clinical edge. His record of striking once every 77 minutes - a statistic that trumps the respective ratios of Serie A Capocannonieri Rossi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain - reflects the purple patch he is going through. It also propels the Ascoli native well ahead of Italy counterparts Mario Balotelli, Dani Osvaldo, Alberto Gilardino and perhaps Ciro Immobile, something that bodes well for his World Cup prospects.
Despite narrowly missing out on Euro 2012 however, Destro is not obsessed with representing the Azzurri in what would be his first major international tournament. “The World Cup? I think it is the dream of any player. For now I’m just focused on doing well with Roma,” he has stated.
Keep up this barnstorming rate for the Scudetto contenders though, and chances of establishing himself in Cesare Prandelli’s reckoning are virtually assured. With the blight of injuries left behind altogether now, Destro’s success story for Roma and Italy is only just beginning.