Ciao Francesco: An emotional letter from Australia
I know the chances of you seeing this letter are very slim due to the thousands of fans who write to you but it would honestly be a dream come true for me if you saw it. If not, I completely understand.
Sunday is sure to be a very emotional day for all Romanisti across the globe – and even more so for you – but I want you to know that you the have support from every corner of the world.
My name is Michael Barbaro. I am a 23-year-old, Italian-Australian, and a huge fan of the most glorious club in the world - AS Roma.
I live very far from the you and the Eternal City. I reside in a small city in South Australia called Adelaide. From a young age I have supported Roma, but there was one deciding factor in helping me decide which team to support.
As a six-year-old child staying up late watching Euro 2000 with my dad and brother, as Edwin van der Sar helplessly watched your ‘cucchaio’ go past him, I knew that the player I was watching was not like any other player. I would often be asked which team I would support at a young age and the answer was always simple - Roma.
As time went on, and I learnt a lot more about our beautiful game. I saw and respected you far more than I thought I could - you weren’t just a football player. You were an icon.
No matter if you were wearing the Giallorossi of Roma or the Azzurri of La Nazionale, you always gave 100% on the park and your magic has inspired many, many people like me.
In 2001, you were part of one of the most triumphant trios in football history with Vincenzo Montella and Gabriel Batistuta. As a seven-year-old at the time, I never got to feel the real joy of my team winning a Scudetto but I have never stopped watching footage of that day in June 2001.
I watched as your penalty broke the hearts of many of my fellow Australians in the Round of 16 of the 2006 World Cup. I watched as you helped Italy win their fourth World Cup - arguably as Italy’s best player of the tournament.
Every milestone you have reached, I have watched.
I have made many sacrifices to be able to watch your games - staying up at all hours of the night, and waking up at early hours in the morning just to watch you play. One of the highlights of my life to this day was in 2015, when Roma came to Australia to participate in the International Champions Cup.
I travelled to Melbourne alone, and attended the matches alone.
I finally had the chance to see my idol play. The man and the team I’d watch on television all hours of the day - was right in front of me. It is a memory I will cherish forever and one of my biggest regrets is not being able to ever come watch you play at the Olimpico.
This shows that you don’t just represent the beautiful city of Rome, but you represent every Roma fan in every corner of the globe - and I speak for all of them.
You are an icon of football Francesco. You’ve played for this football club for longer than I have been on this planet and throughout the past 25 years, you have garnered the respect of every football fan on the globe.
I don’t need to run through your statistics and achievements; they all speak for themselves. Your loyalty to the Giallorossi shirt will forever be remembered in a modern-era where the term loyalty barely exists.
You turned your back on many trophies and personal accolades so you could play for your city - a decision I know you never will regret.
Francesco, I just can’t imagine what life without you will be like at Roma - but I know that your legacy will live on through the club for many, many years to come.
You haven’t played your final game yet, but I am already eagerly awaiting the start of the next chapter of your career.
On behalf of myself, every Roma fan and every football fan in the world, I would like to say thank you.
Thank you for showing us that success and money isn’t everything in football.
Thank you for showing us that passion and love for a club still does exist.
Thank you for being a true icon of our game.
Thank you for entertaining hundreds of millions of people worldwide and thank you for everything you have done for the shirt you have worn for the past 25 years.In bocca al lupo per domenica, Francesco! Spero che vinciamo per tu. C’é solo un capitano. Ti amo, capitano.
Michael Barbaro, 26/05/17
bravo..od reci do reci