I am an hardcore fan of the “magica” Roma…I fell in love with the “giallorossi” (“red-yellow”) when I was a kid, 10 years old (1980), Roma-Udinese 0-0, at the old Olimpic Stadium with my mum and dad. We got there at the last minute and we could only find standing “seats”, at the bottom of the Curva Nord (the other curve, Curva Sud, is the home of Roma’s fans). Tw years later Italy won the World Cup, defeating Argentina with Passarella and an already famous Maradona. (Gentile, the rough italian defender, still has a piece of his jersey!) Then Italy-Brazil, 3-2, an amazing game, with three goals by Rossi (and a great counterattack goal by Antognoni disallowed)….I am talking about the great Brazil of Zico, Falcao (a Roma’s player by then), Socrates, Junior, Eder….I think one of the best games ever by the Azzurri, second only to the 1970 semifinal victory against Germany (4-3 in overtime). Poland of Lato in the semifinal was a joke and then the usual win against Germany…we rarely (never?) lost against Germany in the World Cup.
There was always a party in the streets during that summer of 1982 in Rome, Italian flags everywhere, people crazy rallying for hours after each game…and remember that we barely made it through the first round, with a tie against Cameroon.
Well, a few months later, in the ’82-83 Serie A season, Liedholm (Swedish coach), Falcao (5), Conti (7), Di Bartolomei (10), and Tancredi (goalie) lead the Roma squad to the second scudetto after 40 years!! Nobody removed their flags from the windows and balconies, they just added the Roma flag!!! I remember those days with a lot of joy. I was 12….still a kid. Me and my dad going to the stadium by subway, then bus, sometimes walking for a couple of miles just for the heck of it (waiting for the bus was boring and we were usually early for the game, since the sooner we got there, the better seats we could get). Bringing paninis with us, spending hours in the stadium, cutting newspapers to use when the teams stepped into the field, singing the Roma anthem by Venditti (see below). Many times my cousins came along, as well as some friends from school, but it was mainly me and my dad…always there.
Last game of the season…Roma-Torino, May 15, 1982–I still have the ticket somewhere. We got there at 10am…the game was at 4pm!! Roma had already won the title, but we wanted to be there to celebrate. We were 10 people: me, my dad, my cousins and my uncle Carlo. He brought the Italian coffee maker and a camping gas grill (small one) to the stadium to make coffee!!! He almost made it inside…but he couldn’t convince the men at the gate that he wasn’t going to throw it at anybody!! Crazy eh?? Think about the security measures in place now…different times, different people….
Well, the next year, 1984, Roma went all the way to the Champions League final (it was called Coppa dei Campioni by then, because only the winners of their respective national championship were allowed to compete) . And guess where the final was hosted…….Olimpic Stadium in Rome !!! Can you imagine what was going on in Rome those days ???? It was literally an endless celebration since the summer of 1982 till then, the spring of 1984…..to me everything was normal–winning the World Cup, winning scudetto…and now winning the Champions League !! I was a kid and really I thought I was in the best place ever, where we always win and have fun !!! You also need to understand the context a little bit. Roma and its fans are by construction the underdogs, always fighting against Juventus, Milan, Inter, the rich teams from the north. Kind of surprising if we think that Roma is the capital and has the pope….blah blah blah….no way.
So, Roma was able to reach the Champions League final in its first attempt and could win the Cup, BEFORE Juventus !!! It was a BIG DEAL !!! Like the Brooklyn Dodgers defeating the Yankees in the 50s…..yes, Roma is like the Brooklyn Dodgers. Though in Italy teams don’t move, so luckily in Roma we are stuck with Roma !!
Needless to say, life most often is not like movies. We lost that game against Liverpool…1-1 regular time and overtimes…..penalties….Liverpool misses the first…….ahhhh…….it is still so painful now….Bruno Conti and Ciccio Graziani missed their penalties…..Liverpool didn’t miss any more……I hate their goalie, Grobelar I think, a jerk, check the penalties on youtube and see how he is goofing off on the goal line before the penalties….I was so sad I didn’t go to school the day after…recovering was hard…but I made it, we all made it….flags were still out there, nobody wanted to take them inside….a great concert was still planned al Circo Massimo by Venditti (I still have the tape of that concert)….a perfect end to those fantastic 3 years of soccer….humanity, drama, pride and love for my dad, the team, the city, the country and for everyone who decided to share their joy rallying and dancing in the street after each win. I was 14 by then……starting to fall in love with girls and forgetting la magica, at least during the summer !!!
Ciao …. for now !!
“Roma, Roma, Roma” by Antonello Venditti
Roma, Roma, Roma,
core de sta citta’…
unico grande amore
de tanta e tanta gente
che hai fatto innamora.
Roma, Roma, Roma
t’ho dipinta io
gialla come er sole
rossa come er core mio !!!”
lyrics by Antonello Venditti