I have been back in the UK a couple of days after a third trip to Rome in the last 9 months to watch Roma in Serie A this season.
This last trip was the most emotional one as its “I was there” moment to see a packed Stadio Olimpico to see Francesco Totti wave farewell to his beloved Roma side who have returned the love over the last 24 years.
I left for Roma early on Saturday morning on a 6am flight from Bristol and arrived in Rome mid-morning and I was staying in the Ponte Milvio region of Rome, which is only a 10 minute walk to Stadio Olimpico, which is a bonus itself. On my first trip to Rome I was staying miles away from the ground and nearly got lost coming away from the ground trying to find a taxi to get back to my hotel. Eventually after 25 mins of walking I managed to get one, I have learned from my mistakes and booked a hotel close to the ground.
On Sunday, I managed to go for a quite walk to the ground just a few hours before the gates opened to the fans, stewards were out doing their jobs, media got to the ground earlier to pick up their accreditation passes for the games. Stalls with Roma and Francesco Totti was being set up to be purchased. I picked up a Capitano red Francesco Totti shirt which sadly is a size too small for me in a Large. Not bad a bad purchase for €10.
I made my way to the ground just a few hours before kick-off and it was there was Roma fans everywhere in the Ponte Milvio area with Totti 10 Roma shirts in all kits of years gone. A lovely sight to see. I walked past the entrance of the Curva Sud to meet up with my friend Erlend and his friends from the Roma club Norway on the steps across the road. The sun was shining and the beers were flowing in the Roman sun. The queue to get into the ground 2 hours and 30 mins before kick was astounding. Roma fans wanted to get into the ground early and get a good view of the hero/icon playing his final game for the club.
I got into the ground about an hour or so before kick off after going through a couple of security checks and passport checks. Got into the standing area of the Tribuna Tevere a half hour before kick off and the stadium was packed. On both screens at the Curva Sud and Nord, tributes to Francesco Totti was played on the screens. Tributes from Javier Zanetti, Gigi Buffon (got whistled), Alex Del Piero, Antonio Cassano, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham was played. I wasn’t ready for this and was holding back the tears. A helicopter flew over the ground A couple of times with the banner of Grazie Capitano which got a round of applause. The teams were announced and I posted a video on my twitter page which blew my notifications up as Francesco Totti was cheered and Luciano Spalletti got booed and whistled which was a sorry sight to see as the coach has done a brilliant job since his return in Jan 2016 and was 4 points off Juventus in second place. You cannot win sometimes. The Roma club anthem, Roma Roma Roma was blaring and it was loud and you had goosebumps listening to it.
I wasn’t ready for this and was holding back the tears. A helicopter flew over the ground A couple of times with the banner of Grazie Capitano which got a round of applause. The teams were announced and I posted a video on my twitter page which blew my notifications up as Francesco Totti was cheered and Luciano Spalletti got booed and whistled which was a sorry sight to see as the coach has done a brilliant job since his return in Jan 2016 and was 4 points off Juventus in second place. You cannot win sometimes. The Roma club anthem, Roma Roma Roma was blaring and it was loud and you had goosebumps listening to it.
On to the game itself, Genoa took a surprise shock lead after two minutes when Roma high defensive line was breached and 16 year old Pietro Pellegri who was born in March of 2001, just three months before Roma won their last scudetto broke the offside trap got the better of Kostas Manolas and squeezed his effort pass Szczesny. But Roma hit back not long after on the second attempt, Kevin Strootman cross found Edin Dzeko whose first effort hit the post but the rebound fell to him and chested the ball over the line. Roma then wasted a few chances, Dzeko squirmed a one on one chance which he hit straight at the Genoa goalkeeper. Then had a penalty appeal turned down as he was hauled down while trying to get on the end of a cross. Stephan El Shaarawy then wasted a one on one chance after a lovely Kevin Strootman ball but El Shaarawy fluffed his line and shot wide from close range.
Early in the second half the Roma fans got their wish as Francesco Totti was introduced for Mohamed Salah and showed glimpses of his quality. Brought the ball down on his back, played a lovely cross field ball to El Shaarawy who had a header brilliantly tipped over the bar. Roma got the goal they wanted and it sparked massive celebrations, Edin Dzeko pull back found Daniele De Rossi and he hit low left footed effort into the bottom corner and celebrated under the Curva Sud. Then it was de ja vu, Genoa equalised and once again it was due to slack and poor defender a cross from the left from Diego Laxalt which evaded everyone and found Lazovic at the back post and he headed into an empty net and Olimpico went into silence.
But that wasn’t the end of the drama as into stoppage time, Roma were awarded a free kick, Rada Nainggolan with the set piece, Fazio with the flick to Dzeko who headed into the path of Diego Perotti who volleyed home from close range and the whole stadium erupted. Perotti and the Roma players celebrated under the Curva sud, it was job done but my god Roma made it hard for themselves.
Then came the emotional part of the evening which was the send-off for Francesco Totti, him and his familycame back on the pitch with the gladiatorial music playing in the back ground after a montage was played on the video which sent fans around me into tears including myself. The tears wasn’t held back it was very emotional. Totti then did his walk around the pitch to all 4 parts of the ground and then delivered a heartfelt 12 minute speech about his love of Calcio and his love for Roma. A lot of tears from fans and players and an emotional farewell to an idol of Italian football.
Totti gol totti gol totti gol
Un Capitano c’e solo un Captiano