May 26 is going to be an emotional day for Italian football fans. Roma announced this week that Daniele De Rossi will play his final game for the club against Parma, just two years after Francesco Totti’s farewell.
But I ask the question - why is it that in most contemporary footballing discussions and debates we beg for more players to show loyalty to their clubs when in reality clubs barely tend to show it back?
De Rossi now is a prime example. He wore the yellow and red of Roma for the first time in Serie A in 2003. Arguably two of Roma’s most under-rated midfielders in history in Olivier Dacourt and Damiano Tommasi played alongside him that day in Fabio Capello’s midfield and the rest, as they say, is history.
Nicknamed ‘Capitan Futuro’ as the eternal heir to Totti’s crown, no sooner had he finally taken over the armband that he was put out to pasture. Whereas Totti clashed with Coaches and resisted a role on the bench, De Rossi has never complained or caused trouble for his club.
Fast forward to 2019. He has now donned those same colours over 600 times without winning a major trophy. At the age of 35, 16 years after his initial appearance, why would he choose to reject the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter over the course of his career to remain a one-club player of a team that hasn’t necessarily set the world on fire with the amount of trophies they have won?
The answer is simple - out of love for the Roma shirt. In the words of Totti, a Scudetto in Rome is worth 10 elsewhere. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Totti lift a Serie A trophy after 2001, and we never got to see De Rossi lift one at all. Again, like Totti, he put his love for this football club before his own personal accolades and trophies.
While the pair got to enjoy the 2006 World Cup triumph alongside another Roman icon in Simone Perrotta, you could argue that the trio would have loved to be able to celebrate a Scudetto together even more. Totti and De Rossi, however, are two Roman boys, spending their career excelling in what they do at the club they loved and supported.
De Rossi deserved to go out on his own terms. He obviously doesn’t have the legs he once did, but in the matches that he has played over the past two seasons, he has by no means played poorly. Just last year in his first official season as Roma’s captain, he scored one of the goals to fire his team into the semi-finals of the Champions League in their famous comeback against Barcelona.
De Rossi arguably worked harder than almost any player in the Roma midfield in his time on the park this season, tirelessly attempting to salvage his team from their woes.
We all hope that he receives almost as big a send-off as Totti did two years ago. It is what he deserves. Many Roma fans over the past 48 hours have voiced their discontent over the club’s hierarchy and their treatment of one of its most loyal servants.
De Rossi does not deserve to be pushed out the door. Giallorossi fans are among the most passionate in Italy. They haven’t enjoyed much success, but pride themselves on supporting a club of identity and character. But as each year passes and their team is dissected for monetary profits and revenues, the soul is being sucked out. I am scared that for many passionate Roma fans, this is the final straw.
It has been an absolute pleasure watching Daniele De Rossi’s football career grow over the past 18 years. He has prided himself on being one of the hardest, toughest and most talented central midfielders the game has ever seen, and he will surely be missed.