Alessandro Florenzi confesses he grew up emulating Roma teammate Francesco Totti and supporting the Giallorossi.
The versatile Italy international gave an interview to the official club website on his origins and how childhood dreams turned into reality.
“I had a happy childhood in the area around Rome, called Vitinia. As long as I had a football at my feet, I was happy!
“I was four or five years old when I started watching games on TV with my father. That’s where I started to understand football, its rules and who that team was playing in red and yellow.
“I come from a football family. My father played at a fairly decent level, comparative to today’s Lega Pro, whole my brother played for Cassino before he stopped.
“A friend of mine at school called Alessandro tried to convert me into a Lazio supporter, but my father had already put me on the right path. I resisted.
“When I was five or six, my father started taking me to the Stadio Olimpico to watch the games. I was so impressed by the people in the arena, the players, the green turf…
“Playing football in the street or at school, we tried to imitate Francesco Totti. Don’t forget when Roma won the Scudetto in 2001, I was 10 years old… But then, once I grew and started to play football properly, my idol was Cesc Fabregas. I think he’s fantastic.
“I remember the last game of the season, Roma-Parma, which I watched from home. The city seemed to go completely crazy with joy. My father and I went round Rome on the day of the victory and again a week later for the celebration at the Circo Massimo. Unforgettable.”
It seems Florenzi’s extraordinary versatility is nothing new in his career.
“I started out as a striker, either as a support for the centre-forward or wide right or left in a trident. Both Roma and Lazio wanted me when I played for Lodigiani. I went to Trigoria with my father and met Bruno Conti, who was in charge of the youth academy. I don’t remember what he said, but his presence was enough for me to choose the Giallorossi.
“I then acted as ball boy at the Olimpico in 2002-03, so I got to watch everyone up close. I remember thinking Totti was so tall, he made me feel nervous. He made a joke and said hello, so I relaxed.
“My Serie A debut was replacing Totti during Roma-Sampdoria in May 2011. Francesco was really good at making it easy for me with a smile. I was only on for three minutes, but it’s one of those moments that remains in your mind for life. I am happy my family was in the stands to watch.
“The first time I met Daniele De Rossi was paradoxically nothing to do with football – we were on the beach! We were at Ostia, his home town. His father Alberto was already Coach of the Roma Primavera youth team and he knew me from occasional training sessions.
“We chatted a bit and a few years later met up again in the first team. I have an excellent rapport with both Daniele and Francesco.”
Florenzi famously ran into the stands after a goal to hug his grandmother, so it’s no surprise to learn he wasn’t a wild child.
“The biggest sacrifice I had to make was not going to play five-a-side football with my friends, as there was the danger of getting injured. I’d still go occasionally, though my father forbid me!
“As I’ve always said, it’s a great honour to play for your home-town club, but also a great responsibility. You have to find your balance and see things objectively.
“My advice to young players is to be humble and always keep your feet on the ground. The second is hard work, as it’s only way to make your dreams come true. Nobody will gift that to you. Third, you must remember football is still fun, the most beautiful game in the world!”
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