The following article was written by Dente di Lupo for asroma-addict.com. All credit for this article goes to him.
On June 1893 the English brought football to Italy, in Genoa to be exact, where some young British citizens introduced themselves to consul Mr. Payton with the request to form a sporting club: “We are subjects to Your British Majesty, we live in Genoa due to work and it seems to us only right, as we did in our country, to devote some sports here, above all the game of football.” It was born this way, initiated above all by G. D. Fawcus, the Genoa Cricket and Athletic Club, who, from 1896 changed it’s name to Genoa Cricket and Football Club.
But there was still need a few more decades for football to become ‘calcio’, and, despite the birth of different clubs in the rest of Italy, the first national championship was played only in 1939-30. Before this date, the clubs that came to form were playing in different regional groups played to elimination and the lope lope was awarded after the national final.
Among the Genoa foundation and the first championship in 1929-30, the ball also appeared in Rome. In the capital, in truth, there were born numerous clubs that consisted of groups of friends that were attracted to the ‘new fashion’ that had quickly spread in the country. The first club born was the Football Club Roma (1901) to which followed in 1902 the Roman and Lazio, which had originally been born as a society of track and gymnastics in 1900, Alba (1907), Fortitudo (1908) and then Audace, Esperia, Juventus Roma.
In the beginning of the ’20s the Roman societies enrolled in the major championship (still divided in regional groups) they were Lazio, Romana, Fortitudo, Alba, Juventus, Roman, Audace and Pro Roma. In 1922 Fortitudo reached the national finals, which was played in two meetings, but they were beat by Pro Vercelli (3-0 and 5-2 were the results). In 1925 it was Alba’s turn to reach the finals, to be beaten by Bologna (4-0 and 2-0). The following year Alba again in the finals, where again beaten this time by Juventus of Torino (7-1 and 5-0).
At this point it was very clear that the Roman calcio was too divided and weak to be able to compete at the maximum level with the societies from the north, there were too many teams and too many rivalries, it was then necessary to make a radical reorganization in the best interest of everybody: This way Pro Roma and Romana melted together to then meet with Fortitudo, Juventus Roma broke up and Audace was absorbed by Alba. At this point, we’re at 1927, the capital was represented by four football teams: Alba-Audace, presided by Igliori, Fortitudo, presided by the marquis Sacchetti, Roman, presided by Vittorio Scialoja, Lazio, presided by Fortunato Ballerini. Alba wore a green shirt with a horizontal white strip, white shorts and black socks with a white and green on the lapel. Their fans originated from the popular districts of S. Giovanni and from Appio, generally in the southeast zone, which was undergoing fast expansion, in Rome. Fortitudo was a team for the Catholics by definition and in fact wore the colors (clearly red and blue) of the bourgeois neighborhoods of Borgo Pio and Prati, those that were close neighbors of the Vatican. Traditionally they would wear a red shirt with a blue horizontal band near the bottom, white shorts and red socks with a blue lapel. Roman was the team of the high districts, Flaminio and Parioli, and it brought the giallorosso (yellowred) of the imperial tradition of the eternal city.
Lazio finally, among all these realities, was the most organized society, also because they did not just occupy themselves with calcio, but they were a Sports Center (Polisportiva) with which their activities ranged from cycling to gymnastics. There colors were taken from those of Greece which were selected by it’s founders who wanted to retain the spirit of the Olympics that was reborn a little thanks to De Coubertin and it’s name had to represent a team that went past the confinements of the city to represent the whole region. In fact, their fans were mostly composed of immigrates of the rural zones of the city and elements of the new middle class composed by government officials and employees.
It was really the complexity of the society of Lazio and it’s feelings towards partly extraneous and different officials of the city to bring the managers of Lazio to refuse the invitation of the fusion decided by the other three societies in the capital. The 6th of June 1927, the representative of Lazio, consul Vaccaio, introduces some unacceptable financial conditions to the representatives of Fortitudo and Alba, which in doing so brought about the failure of the union.
The day after, June 7th 1927, at the house of the Commissioner of the Italian Sport Foschi, the representatives of Alba, Fortitudo and Roman, accepted the fusion for the good of roman sport, leaving out the project of Lazio. It had to be a winning operation because Alba had the public, Fortitudo the players, Roman the money. It was born this way and on that date the Associazione Sportiva Roma, even if some newspapers gave the announcement a few weeks later.
The president was Italo Foschi, provisional coaches were Pietro Piselli (ex coach of Alba) and Jozsef King (ex coach of Fortitudo), the best players were selected from the three teams which created the first roster of AS Roma. Among these, in particular, Attilio Ferraris IV must be remembered, then World Cup champion of Italy in 1934, called “il biondino di Borgo Pio” (‘the blondie from Borgo Pio’), who immediately became famous for his passion of smoking, alcohol and women off the field, but even for his great class and grit with the ball at his feet. A Roman phenomenon in the dawn of calcio in the capital. AS Roma went on the field for the first time on June 17 1927 at Velodromo Appio, Alba stadium, where they played up till 1929 as they waited for the completion of the Testaccio Field. They played a friendly match with the Hungarians from UTE (today Ujpest), this was the historical formation: Rapetti, Mattei, Corbyons, Ferraris IV, Degni, Caimmi, Heger, Boros, Rovida, Cappa, Ziroli. Roma won 2-1, with goals by Cappa and Heger who entered this way in the giallorossa history. The shirts worn were those that remained still unused in the stores of Roman, the traditional red shirt “sangue di bue” (‘blood of an ox) and with the yellow collar “becco d’oca” (‘beak of a goose’), white shorts and red socks with a yellow lapel.
September 25 1927 the championship started, and Roma were then enrolled in Serie A, still called by that epoch Divisione Nazionale, composed of two groups for a total of 22 teams, with the top 8 teams having access to the final phase of play-offs. The team was assembled above all on the strength of Fortitudo and Alba, the only novelties were striker Mario Bussich and English coach William Garbutt, ex striker of Arsenal and the leader of Genoa campione d’Italia in 1925,1923, and 1924.
For the very first debut in the championship against Livorno of Velodromo Appio, Roma adopts a completely different uniform, a white shirt with red shorts with a yellow lapel. The team was comprised mainly of Alba and Fortitudo players, with the only novelty being attacker Mario Bussich and English coach William Garbutt, who played striker for Arsenal and guided Genoa to champions in Italy in 1925, 1923 and 1924. The game also saw the first victory in the history of AS Roma, with goals by Ziroli and Fasanelli. This was the formation for that memorable day: Rapetti, Mattei I, Corbyons, Ferraris IV, Degni, Rovida, Ziroli, Fasanelli, Bussich, Cappa, Chini. The fans of Roma, since that day showed their true and whole love and the attachment that they always had for their team: to see Roma in action, they had to walk four kilometers by foot, from the street car terminal of Porta S. Giovanni at Velodromo Appio, at the time it was set just on the outside of the city. Only during the season the town administration created a service for the streetcar that connected the stadium to the center of the city.
The 1st of January 1928, in occasion of Italy – Switzerland (won by I azzurri by 3-2) Attilo Ferrasis IV was summoned: he was the first player in the history of Roma to wear the national team jersey. March 4 1928, Rom closed with a 3-0 victory over Internazionale in their experience in the Divisione Nazionale. This was the final standings for Group B: Bologna 27, Juventus e Casale 24, Internazionale 23, Modena 22, Novara 21, Pro Patria 20, Roma 19, Livorno 17, Dominante 14, Hellas Verona 8.
March 29 1928, Italo Foschi leaves the presidency to Renato Sacerdoti, the collections of the society amounted to 629.000 lire and the exercise closed with a deficit of 20.000 lire, something that would not bring much worry.
April 8 1928, Roma plays their first Coppa Coni ‘Coni Cup’ (this was the old Coppa Italia ‘Italian Cup’ which was played between the championship and the other) against Napoli winning 4-1, three goals by Fasanelli and one by Cappa.
Then begins Roma’s history on the transfer market with a formidable purchase: Bought from Inter was the roman Fulvio Bernardini, star footballer with which Presidente Sacerdoti assures him an incredible contract of 100.000 lire a year.
July 29 1928, Roma wins the Coppa Coni winning in the final played at Florence against Modena 2-1, goals by Corbyons and Bussich. There were parties in the streets of Rome. September 30 1928, begins the second championship in the history of AS Roma, this was the basic formation: Ballante, Barzan, De Micheli, Ferraris IV, Bernardini, D’Aquino, Degni, Benatti, Fasanelli, Folk, Chini. The debut sees a new victory for Roma against Legnano for 4-1 with goals by Bernardini, Volk, Chini, and Fasanelli. Debut for Fulvio Bernardini, for him, between 1928 and 1939, 285 presences with the shirt of Roma and 49 goals. Bernardini, whose memory has been entitled recently at Trigoria, was one of the pioneers of Italian calcio: at 14 years old he became keeper for Lazio and he immediately was protagonist of a red hot derby with Fortitudo in which the players rossablu didn’t hold back against him by pushing with elbows, kicks and knees.
Then he passed to Inter where he invented a role all by himself between defender and attacker. With Roma he played for ten years, becoming one of the idols of Testaccio. For his university studies, for the elegance of touching the ball, for his gentleness towards the fans, he was given a nickname – “Il Dottore” (‘the doctor) even if the romanisti fans preferred to call him”Fuffo”. Debut even for Rudolph Volk, arriving from Fiumana: for him between 1928 to 1933, 157 presences, a leading goal scorer title in the Italian championship and 103 goals. Very blond hair, tall, thick, he had characteristics very similar to a modern center forward. Strength, speed, release, courage. Original was his style of play: he constantly scored with his back to the net and, when receiving the ball, would quickly dash away firing a rapid shot that would surprise the keeper. He becomes a figure in the romanista fan section giving him the nickname “Sciabbolone”, he remains famous for a sentence spoken in broken Italian: “Io no penso, io tiro.” (“I don’t think, I shoot.”)
On March 10 1929, AS Roma play their first official game in a foreign country, a friendly at Paris against the Club Francais which I giallrossi win for 5-0, with a hat trick by Volk and goals by Chini and Landolfi.
On March 17 1929, at Alexandria, first pitch invasion with Roma as the protagonist. With a score line of 0-2 in favor of the Romans, the furious crowd invades the field, the referee gets beaten up and forced the romanisti players to run away from the city in their uniforms. On the field things did not get better, Bernardini received an elbow to his jaw, scarring his face for the rest of his life. Roma closed their second season in Divisione Nazionale winning at Milan for 0-1 against Milan, thanks to a goal by Corbyons on a penalty.
Season 1929-30 brought a lot of novelties: the championship with one group; the substitution of coach Garbutt with Bacani first and then with the more highly rated Herbert Burgess; and finally the inauguration of the Testaccio Field. This mythical field, built in the homonym district through the loans obligatory of 25 lire by everyone (one milione and a half of lire was the total cost of the project) it was projected after the model of the English stadiums: four galleries made of weed painted yellow and red that welcomed twenty thousand spectators, a soft wide lawn 70 meters long. This allows the artifice to widen or tighten the field in relationship to the characteristics of the opposing team, without incurring disciplinary sanctions seeing that the minimum allowed was 60 meters. On the fifth day of the championship against Brescia, Roma went down into the ‘den’ of Testaccio, the victory was signaled by the goals of Volk and Bernardini, that thus began the legend of the “invincible Testaccio” (‘invincible Testaccio’) : from November 5 1929 to June 30 1940 (2-1 to Livorno) Roma disputed at Testaccio 161 matches in the championship, with 103 victories, 32 draws and 26 losses.
December 8 1929: the first derby of the championship, since the two preceding seasons Lazio and Roma were drawn on two different groups. They played at Lazio’s home field, at the Stadio della Rondinella: the authorities, worried by the climate of tension that the city breathed, they predisposed imposing safety measures, probably exaggerated: hundreds of police officers, carabinieri, soldiers of the Fascist Militia were mobilized. There were the formations; Lazio: Sclavi, Saraceni, Bottaccini, Pardini, Furlani, Caimmi, Ziroli, Spivach, Pastore, Malatesta, Sbrana; AS Roma: Ballante, Barzan, De Micheli, Ferraris IV (capitan), Degni, Carpi, Benatti, Delle Vedove, Volk, Costantini, Chini. The fifteen thousand spectators were in large part romanisti as was written in the sporting daily paper “Il Littoriale” (today Corriere dello Sport): “It can be said objectively that Lazio played on the field… of the adversary, as the stands, filled up giallorossi fans, left very little room to I laziali”. Fifteen minutes until the end Volk scored with a bomb just outside the area and the giallorossa party started. To Roma was the first derby in their history. May 4 1930: the return leg of the derby was played at Testaccio, and again I giallorossi win, this time 3-1 with a double by Volk and a goal by Chini. City superiority could not have been shown better.
On July 6 1930 Roma closed the first championship with only one group with a overwhelming victory “made in Testaccio” over Padova 8-0, with a hat trick by Volk and Fasanelli and goals by Chini and Benatti. This Roma ‘testaccina’ lined up 9 Romans on the field (Ballante, Mattei, De Micheli, Degni, Ferraris IV, Bossi, Bernardini ed Eusebio) and two ‘foreigners’, Benatti born in Modena and Volk, of German origin but born at Fiume which at that time was Italian (today, its name is Rjeka, it belongs to Croatia). The final standings saw Roma conquer an honorable sixth place. That summer arrived at Roma another great protagonist of Roma’s Testaccio, the keeper Guido Masetti who would play with Roma in the championship 339 games, saving 12 penalty shots out of 32. Masetti, World Cup champion with Italy in 1934 and in 1938 was without question the greatest keeper in the history of Roma. One of the chants that was heard at Testaccio in those years was: “Volk scores and Massetti doesn’t let anybody score”.
The championship in 1930-31 sees Roma finish second place for the first time, confirming themselves as a team that was at the highest vertex for a team that was only four years old. Other than Masetti from Hellas Verona, there arrived Bodini from Cremonese, Piero Ferrar from Derthona, Argentinian Lombardo and above all the national team player Costantino, idol from Bari, who between 1930 to 1935 played for Roma 157 matches scoring 41 goals. The typical formation was therefore: Masetti, De Micheli, Bodini, Bernardini, Ferraris IV, Chini, Fasanelli, Costantino, Lombardo, D’Aquino, Volk. The opening match was not brilliant (1-1 away at Modena, with a goal by Volk), but on the thirteenth day of the championship, Roma confirmed themselves a great team with potential by going away to the house of the strong Torino winning 4-1 with a goals by Costantino, Bernardini and a double by Volk.
On January 18 1931 came the first loss at Testaccio (1-2) done by Milan. After that game however they followed with four consecutive victories that brought Roma only -3 points away from the league leaders Juventus. On March 8 however Napoli beats us at home for 3-0. It’s interesting to bring up one of the memories of Bernardini on that match. “So then they all brought their hats: so that to recognize if a spectator was Roman they removed their hat and from the individualized label they could tell if the hat was bought in Naples or in Rome. If they dealt with a roman, they would hit them! On all the cars the tires were deflated and they would even throw some cars to the sea. We won’t talk about the tomatoes that were thrown at us as we made the return trip through some towns near Naples. It was a very ‘hot’ environment. Our nerves were intense. After the game, while we were going to bus station from the hotel that opened from the back, we realized that there was a car with four people that followed us who screamed insults at us. Just before we reached Megellina we had to stop the bus and from the back stairs I fell down, Ferraris IV and some body else and we got a nice bump on our heads.” One week later, March 15 1931, they would welcome at Testaccio the league leaders. The formidable Juventus, and the stadium was very populated which would bring a record of sales (257.000 lire!) and some fear of safety for the spectators. Roma humiliated I bianconeri winning 5-0 despite the red card of Ferraris IV. The impression was celebrated in an important film at that time, directed by the great director Angelo Musco and titled it ’5-0′. On the wings of enthusiasm, Roma would string together one victory after another, 4-0 against Pro Patria, 2-1 with Bologna, 3-0 with Casale, even 7-1 against Livorno and 5-0 against Pro Vercelli. But it would be Lazio, protagonist of a contrary championship, a mediocre one, to stop the flight of Roma.
May 24 1931, again another derby, away at Lazio, who would go ahead with a goal, after a goal unjustly cancelled against Roma, which would be repaid by Volk and brought again the 2-1 score line. Roma pushes forward and finds the equalizer with Bodini. But the only objective for Lazio (something that gets repeated often in their sad story) was to hinder Roma’s run to the ‘tricolore’, while the men of Burgess could not be satisfied with the draw. This way then, after a foul near the touchline the ball would be kicked away by the laziale manager Vaccaro in order to lose precious time, this instigates the ‘end of the world’ : the players come to blows on the field, the fans in the stands, Ferraris IV was hit by a police officer while he was trying to get his brother away from a scrambled fight. To Roma this derby costed them dearly: a fine of 30.000 lire, Testaccio Field banned for one game, four days to De Micheli and three to captain Bernardini. The following Sunday the team lost away to Inter 5-0. The successive victories against Torino (5-1), Genoa (5-0), Milan (2-0) were not enough to catch up to Juventus. This was the final standings: Juventus 55, Roma 51, Bologna 48, Genoa 47, Inter 38, Napoli 37, Torino 36, Lazio 35, Brescia 34, Pro Vercelli e Modena 33, Milan 31, Triestina 25, Pro Patria 23, Casale 21, Livorno 20, Legnano 19. If it had been three points for a victory (and Lazio in Serie B!) Roma would have been campione d’Italia!
July 7 1931, Roma beings their international competitions, playing a quarter final match of Coppa Europa (European Cup) against Slavia Praga (1-1), while I laziali were resting near the sea under their umbrellas. Roma reached the semifinals where they were beaten by First Vienna (3-2 and 1-3) for goal difference. When the championship started in 1931-32, the giallorossi people nourished great ambitions, but the team didn’t succeed in confirming their success of the past season and concluded in third place with 14 points off of Juventus who reaffirmed Italian champions. Among the reasons for an unexpected season, the problems that troubled coach Burgess, more and more he became an alcoholic: often the executives of AS Roma would often recover him in the middle of the night completely drunk along the streets in the center square. The society was forced to replace him with the Hungarian Janos Baar who would then get fired following the first defeat in a derby on October 23 1932 (2-1). On the bench sat another Hungarian, Lajos Kovacs, but he was never supported by the players due to his rigid character. Kovacs was fired and replaced by Luigi Barbesino. His methods worked however and Roma won, under his guide, the Coppa Cappelli, beating Losanna, Monaco 1860 and Lazio and concluded the championship in fifth place.
The summer of 1933 saw the arrival of three Argentinian champions (although of Italian origin): Guaita, Scopelli and Stagnaro. On November 1st 1933 Roma vindicated the loss in the derby of the year past, humiliating Lazio 5-0 (triple by Tomasi and double by Bernardini) and reestablishing their inner city supremacy. On the return leg, away to Lazio, Roma after going ahead 3-0 and after hitting three posts clamorously let Lazio catch draw the match 3-3. President Sacerdoti was infuriated and unjustly accused Ferraris IV of throwing the match and forbade him to participate in the following AS Roma trainings. He gave entirely unfounded accusations. Roma concluded that season in a not thrilling fifth place, while Lazio reached tenth, nine points away. On June 10 1934, Ferraris IV returned in front of the public, even though for the occasion he was part of the national team wearing the Azzurri color, Italy beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 thanks to a decisive assist by Guaita and they became World Cup champions. Among the romanisti present on the field, even Masetti, second keeper of the national team. Summer of 1934 however brought little calm for the fans of Roma: the two ‘symbols’ of the team, Bernardini and Ferraris IV were in conflict with the society, and the second player mentioned left AS Roma going right to Lazio. Bernardini, was convinced to stay.
On November 18 1934 again a new derby, but this time it had particular meaning, because on the field you could see Ferraris IV wearing the Lazio jersey. In truth, in the contract with which AS Roma sold the World Cup champion to their cousins foresaw a clause that prevented Ferraris IV to play against Roma. But the laziali fans preferred to pay the necessary sum of the penalty in order to make an rude gesture to the romanisti fans. It was a memorable embrace between Bernardini and Ferraris IV in the center of the field before the beginning of the game in front of the Testaccio public. The derby ended 1-1. Roma finished in fourth place, three points in front of Lazio, a championship that was again won by Juventus. Protagonist of that season was, the “Corsaro nero” (‘the black pirate’) Guaita that established an all time record of a championship with sixteen times scoring 28 goals in 29 matches. Overall, Enrico Guaita disputed with Roma 61 games scoring 43 goals.The nickname “Corsaro Nero” derived from the fact that Guaita preferred to score ‘gol di rapina’ (an Italian term that refers to a player being very opportunistic) and that Roma, in those years often played with a black shirt. But in the summer of 1935, on the eve of the war in Ethiopia, Guaita, Scopelli and Stagnaro ran away from Italy in fear to be recalled for the army.This is how Roma lost their three Argentinian champions and new controversy surrounded president Sacerdoti. Scialoja, already the president with Roman, lost his position, bring about some huge purchases on the transfer market: arrivals of Monzeglio (who they pursued since 1931), Allemandi, outside defender with the World Cup championship side, and Cattaneo. The last player mentioned gifted Roma the first leg derby on October 13 1945 (0-1) and the return leg on February 8 1936 (1-0). At this point in the championship Roma and Bologna were the only teams strong enough to stop Juventus who were flying to their sixth consecutive lope lope. It was again the turn of I giallorossi to give another memorable lesson to I bianconeri on March 26 1936 at Torino: Roma won 3-1 with a double scored by the very young roman attacker Dante “Paperino” Di Benedetti and a goal by Catteneo. I Juventini didn’t lose at home for the last four years! Roma was again on the right path in winning their first lope lope, but they would be stopped at Brescia, with a 1-1 draw on April 19 1936. Concerning this brings another memorable episode which sees as protagonist the great “Fuffo” Bernardini.
The day before the game the Brescia keeper Perrucchetti contacted the romanista manager Manzolini and proposes to give the game to Roma for 3000 lire. Bernardini, came to know about the illegitimate offer warns the giallorossa society that if the offer was accepted, he would refuse to go on the field for the remainder of the season. Saying this, Roma does nothing more than draw and ended the championship from only one point from Bologna campione d’Italia, yet again, if it would have been three points for a victory (instead of two) Roma would have been campione d’Italia. This was the standings at the end of season 1935-36: Bologna 40, Roma 39, Torino 38, Inter 36, Juventus 35, Triestina 32, Lazio 30, Milan, Napoli, Alessandria & Genoa 28, Fiorentina & Sampierdarenese 27, Bari 25, Palermo 23, Brescia 16. This is how Roma lost another lope lope, but they can boast forever of the great correctness and sportsmanship of their great Captain, “Fuffo” Bernardini. For the following season Roma strengthened themselves yet again, above all with the acquisition of midfielder Piero Serantoni who in 1938 would be World Cup champion with the azzurri together with another celebrated romanista, Monzeglio. The society changed leadership, passing from Scialoja to Ignio Betti. It followed however with a very disappointing championship, characterized only by the debut with the giallorossa shirt of young Amadeo Amadei, nicknamed “il fornaretto di Frascati”, one of the future craftsmen of the 1942 lope lope. The season was also characterized by the double romanista derby win with Lazio: at Testaccio Roma won 3-1 (October 18 1936) the return leg, at the stadio Rondinella, Roma went ahead with a goal by Mazzoni. At the end of the game another gigantic brawl was instigated in the stands: Lazio was making a run for the lope lope that season but the double defeat in the derby made them finish three points off from Bologna, whereas Roma finished only tenth. Despite Roma reaching the finals of Coppa Italia that season (losing to Genoa), the dark times were drawing near for ‘I lupi capitolini’: Guido Ara substituted Luigi Barbesino on the bench, but Roma was only sixth in 1937-38, fifth in 1938-39, seventh in 1939-40, eleventh in 1940-41. Attilo Ferraris IV, won by nostalgia, redeemed his papers with Bari to return to Roma, who were in those years defined as ” Roma dei Senatori” (‘Senators of Roma’), for their increased age of players. On June 8 1939, Captain Bernardini played his last game in a giallorossa jersey, it was a friendly match against Napoli which Roma won 4-0 (Bernardini scored a goal). The society decided in a shameful manner of liberated the poor “Fuffo” and he only learned of his sale through the newspapers, as he was vacationing on the beach. The same treatment was reserved for the mythical keeper Guido Masetti who retired from football the following year. During the same season the secretary management of Betti brings about the bankruptcy and a wave of Argentinians were acquired with the ‘boxes closed’: Spitale, Campilongo, Provvidente, Panto`. Only this last player was a relevant purchase for the team. Meanwhile the legend of the Campo Testaccio, symbol of past greatness, starts to grow weak: the capacity was insuffient and the structures insecure. After different and ineffective attempts at restoring the Campo Testaccio it becomes demolished, Roma played their last official game on June 2 1940, winning 3-1 against Novara (goals by Panto`, Coscia and Provvidente)
Some weeks later Italy enters World War II. And the end of the glorious Roma del Testaccio, the team of Masetti, Bernardini, Ferraris IV, Guaita, the end of the pioneers of Roman Football, those that made Roma flee from the early mediocre days to render our colors able to compete with the great teams of the north. Roma transfers to the stadio del Partito Nazionale Fascista (today stadio Flaminio, where the national rugby team plays the Trophy of the Six Nations), but it was still the echo of the Roma of Testaccio that would bring the lope lope to the capital, in the season of 1941-42, the last before the interruption caused by the events of the war. During 1941, the society passed the bankruptcy managed by Betti to Edgardo Bazzini who, despite the financial difficulties caused by the war, managed an ambitious transfer market. Arriving in giallorosso, Mornese, Andreoli, Risorti, Cappellini and Benedetti. In net was the mythical Guido Masetti who was called back, in attack Amadei and Panto`, in midfield shined the bright the star of Albanian Nain Kriezu. The bench was entrusted to Alfred Schaffer who already guided Hungary of Budapest winning the Hungarian championship, after many years in difficulty. The season presented itself very grand right to the first game: 5-1 at Napoli, triple by Amadei, more and more in the hearts of I giallorossi fans as “ottavo Re di Roma” (eighth King of Rome’), and goals by Di Pasquale and Coscia.
The second day of the championship, November 2 1941, Roma wins at Bologna, a feat that never had yet been done by I giallorossi, for 2-1, with goals by Donati and Krizu. On the third day, it was Juve’s turn: with a goal by Kriezu and one by Panto` Roma set fire to ‘la vecchia Signora’ (the old Lady’). January 11 1942 it’s another derby: a heart attack game. Two goals by Lazio were disallowed, Roma misses a penalty with Mornese. Subsequently Amadei gives Roma the lead, but Lazio equalize immediately. At 91′ cross in the area by Kreizu, Panto` pushes with malice the Lazio defender Faotto and he ‘scores’ (50 years before, the great Paolo NegroGol) an own goal fundamental in the history of AS Roma. It finishes 2-1. The return derby, March 24 1942, Lazio’s only objective was to stop Roma on their course to winning the tricolore, the game ended 1-1. On June 14 1942 Roma plays their last game of the championship at home against Modena. This was the formation of AS Roma campione d’Italia: Masetti, Brunella, Andreoli, Donati, Mornese, Jacobini, Borsetti, Cappellini, Amadei, Coscia, Panto’. Roma wins 2-0 with a goal by Cappellini and Borsetti. At 17:40 on June 24 1942 therefore, the triple whistle of the referee consecrated Roma Campione d’Italia for the first time in their history. Thousands of fans invaded the field to bring in triumph the players and the gigantic Schaffer who weighed 100 kg.The poor Austrian coach died a few months later, after having reentered to his homeland because of the events in the war. This was the final standings: Roma campione d’Italia 42, Torino 39, Venezia 38, Genova (the Fascists had imposed to change the names of teams that had ‘British influence) & Lazio 37, Juventus 32, Bologna & Triestina 29, Fiorentina, Milano, Liguria & Ambrosiana Inter 27, Atalanta & Livorno 24, Napoli 23, Modena 19.
The war didn’t allow much rejoicing and the players received as awards a key ring each (rather than the champions of today!) but perhaps the most meaningful prize was represented by the telegram of congratulations signed by the past champions Bologna: “We detach from our jerseys the lope lope, convinced that starting from today it is worn on the chest of players on the greatest team.” But it was the war on the door of Italy that would interrupt the history of that formidable team: the international championship was interrupted and was rescheduled in 1946/47. The state of mind of the giallorossi fans was well testified from the diary of an anonymous fan published many years later by the Roman newspaper “Il Messaggero”: “I wondered to myself what would have happened in this city if the lope lope had arrived in a less serious and worrisome moment. I don’t want to say that the people of our colors are not happy, but I seem to notice a diffused fear around me, but more than fear I would speak of modesty. With so many boys that die every day (but why!), I want to forget, but it doesn’t succeed. I know that I do no harm in celebrating the team that we have in our hearts, yet there is a little devil inside of me. In short, to have a complete party you need to have a clear mind. And who has this during these times? Welcomed is this lope lope very desired, but perhaps three or four years back, it would have been another thing.”
Roma campione d’Italia plays their last championship, the season of 1942-43, before the standstill for the allied occupation of Italy. I campioni d’Italia however are protagonists of a foolish season, saved only partly by their good performance in the Coppa Italia (they arrived in the semifinals) and from some relieving victories (against Juventus, Inter and Livorno, who lost the lope lope in favor of Torino, actually because of the defeat suffered against Roma). They were treated however to a troubled season, marked by particular episodes: November 8 1942 the train that brought Roma from Rapallo to Genoa for the game against Liguria was machine gunned by American airplanes. The convoy looked for shelter inside a gallery but it collides up with another train which was also sheltered there in escape from the hostile aggression. It’s a miracle that there wasn’t, among all the dead, victims among the players of AS Roma who reached Genoa with an eight hour delay to find themselves in a stadium unbelievably empty.
February 18 1943 in the recovery match against Liguria (lost by Roma 3-0), Guido Massetti announces as campione d’Italia his retirement from football. Another blow suffered, yet another unforgettable ‘bandiera’ (flag) of Roma of Testaccio is gone. May 23, 1943 they play the Coppa Italia semifinal at home against Torino who were just graduated as the new champions of Italia. It was a red hot game from the moment Roma still had the badge on their breast: the first half closed with goal scored by the ‘granata’ Loik. During their entry to the locker room during the interval the players of Roma find eleven scissors and the invitation to come un-stich themselves, un-stich the badge from their breast. During the second half I giallrossi return to being infuriated ‘Lupi’ (wolves) due to the offense suffered: the equalizer comes from Dagianti. Seven minutes from the end Torino find a goal thanks to a shot by Ossola which the romanista keeper Blason controls with two touches, but the referee indicates that the ball went past the white line and doesn’t acknowledge the signaling of the offside by linesman Missironi. After a brief consultation with the referee, the linesman thinks it over and says that there wasn’t an offside: this instigates a brawl and Dagianti hits linesman Missironi with a nice kick right on his behind, who ,however, after everything was said and done gave the indication that it was Amadei as the guilty party. The fascist sporting authorities harshly punish Roma who lost the game 2-0 on the scoreboard and the poor and innocent Amadei gets disqualified for life from every sporting activity. Fortunately, the football life of Amadei lasted longer than Fascism that by now reached it’s terminal!
From the summer of 1943 to 1945 the national territory is separated in two, it was not sure if the national championship would be played out: football goes ahead as it can, by regional or even through small towns. They organized so-called ‘alimentary tournaments’ promoted above all by the players in order to put something in their teeth: at Roma they played the city cup, among the contenders, besides Roma and Lazio, there is the return of Alba, the Mater of Bernardini and Elettronica of Ferraris IV. In 1945 the national championship returns, divided however in two groups, that of the North and that of the South-central. Among enormous economic difficulties (Roma and whole of Italy suffered greatly from the effects of the war), president Baldassarri succeeds in forming a Roma that more or less is in degree to play football. In any case, the two most important acquisitions are the return of Michelangelo Pantò from Argentina and of Amedeo Amadei of which his disqualification was canceled.
Nevertheless the void is enormous which was left behind between the net by the good-bye of Guido Masetti, this is how, an ageless poet and romanista fan Alfonso Gatto, remembers him. “I remember a game under the storm: that Sunday Meazza and Masetti made sparks. A striking header by the attacker, Masetti responds by flying to his left then to his right, high in the corner. Everything was intelligent, his body in that instant, everything full of his joy and our fullness. We understood then that the game of football tore the absolute words from somebody’s life with a furious intuition.”
Roma of that season was able to qualify themselves to the following phase, resulting in being one of the top four teams in the South-central division, together with Bari, Napoli and Pro Livorno. April 28, 1946 starts the final round: Roma – Torino 0-7: it’s the first impact, brutal (the first four goals were scored by Il Toro in eight minutes) with the great, greatest Torino of Valentino Mazzola who dominated uncontested Italian football in the postwar period up to the aerial tragedy from SuperGa. Roma closed the championship in eight position in that strange formula of the championship which was broken in two divisions in 1945-46. With the successive season, 1946-47, they returned with one whole division, but the economical possibilities didn’t change for I giallorossi, around the old champions of 1943 in the offensive department, Amadei and Krieziu, there was very little in the technical point of view.
In January of 1947 it was the first confrontation in the history of the Roma fans towards it’s society: there were rumors going around of the selling of Amadei to the great Torino, because of the confrontation, the president, Baldassarre, was forced to cancel everything. In this way, the fans, not knowing in that moment, saved Amadei from the tragedy of Superga. But 1947 will be marked by a new mourning for the giallorossi colors: on May 8, in a game among friends, Attilio Ferrais IV died of cardiac arrest, at the funeral, Fulvio Bernardini gave his national jersey to cover the coffin of the great “Biodino di Borgo Pio”. Yet another ‘bandiera’ (flag) of Roma of Testaccio is gone. It wasn’t happy times for the giallorossi colors, the society didn’t have financial means to assure a formation worthy of the name of Rome, Amadei was the only one able to keep the team a float which was slipping dangerously in the lower quarters of the Serie A standings. The few satisfactions came from the derbys, where, for enchantment, Roma returned their glorious spirit from Testaccio.
Like in the derby on November 16 1947 won 0-1 by Roma with nine men, thanks to the goal by Amadei, with which, immediately after scoring the goal gets a fractured vertebra by the biancoceleste Ferri on a criminal tackle. Following that, the same Ferri repeats the gesture breaking the meniscus of Valle and forcing the Roma team to end in nine. In the summer of 1948 arrives another bitter bite to the giallorossi fans: Amadeo Amadei, the only remaining flag bearer, the favorite child, gets sold to Inter for thirty five milioni of Lire, at that time. President Baldassarre is justified by saying that Amadei, after so many sacrifices, deserves a more proper stage for his class. And, in truth, it was really with Inter which he gains a national team spot. This opens a bitter period in which Roman players in order to gain a position with the national team have to leave their city and to seek fortune in the north. May 3, 1949, the airplane that brings home the Great Torino of Valentino Mazzola, after a charity game in Lisbon, crashes at Superga, near Turin. No survivors. For Italian football the whole nation was in mourning. Roma closes the championship of 1948-49 with a mediocre tenth place.
The management of Baldassare ends this way: June 20, 1949 the presidency passes to senator Pier Carlo Restagno, who decides to revolutionize the technical staff entrusting the first squad to Fuffo Bernardini. Another pleasant return to the society is that of Renato Sacerdoti, already president in the ’30′s and certainly one of the greatest presidents in the history of AS Roma. Among the new players at the disposition of coach Bernardini we remember defender Armando Tre Re, attacker Adriano Zecca (nicknamed by the fans as ‘Danny Kay” for his acrobatic skills), the right winger Renzo Merlin and the Yugoslavian Alex Arangelovic. For Adraino Zecca until 1953, 91 games and 22 goals with the Roma shirt. The football coached by Bernardini is tactically innovative and will allowed him to win two scudetti with Fiorentina and Bologna. But at Roma, in the season of 1949-50, things didn’t go as good and on May 10 1950 Bernardini gives his resignation as the coach of Roma. The vice presidents, Sacerdoti and Crostarosa, to which president Restagno had delegated as functioning executives in November of 1949, entrust the bench job to Ligi Brunella who risks avoiding Serie B thanks only to the loss of Bari at home against Inter: they get demoted Bari and Venezia, Roma gets saved, they close the championship off in eighteenth place together with Novara (the championship was twenty teams, but at the time only two teams were demoted). This was the painful age of the “Rometta”: a much smaller team than the the name it carried and the tradition it brought. The disaster was complete in the following season.
During the transfer market in the summer of 1950 Roma opted for two good Swedish halfbacks, Palmer and Skoglund, but there wasn’t enough money to close the deal and the two respectively finish up in Legnano and Inter. There arrives other three Swedish players: Knut Nordahl (brother of the much stronger and famous Gunnar Nordahl of Milan), the midfielder Sune Anderson Olympic champion in 1948 and winger Stig Sundqvist, for him, until the summer of 1953, 78 games and 20 goals with the Roma jersey. On the bench sits Adolfo Baloncieri, this is the formation that was the base of Roma’s disastrous season in 1950-51: Tessari, Nordahl, Cardarelli, Spartano, Tre Re, Venturi, Bacci, Maestrelli, Tontodonati, Andersson, Sundqvist. The first three matches of the season see three consecutive loses against Bologna, Palermo and Triestina, this was a bad signal. On the fifth day at Torino, Roma loses ungloriously to the campione d’Italia Juventus for 7-2 after having gone in advantage for 0-2 with goals from Sundqvist and Bacci: the team gave the impression of having a weak character. The following Sunday still another painful defeat, this time to Lazio in the away derby (1-0 and, following, the ‘Rometta’ goes and loses for 0-6 at home against Inter.
The romanisti fans are all in complete shock, but they don’t get discouraged, from that day gets born the first group of organized fans: “Associazione Tifosi Giallorossi” (Association of Giallorossi Fans). In December the fans gather 13,000 signatures for the return of Bernardini on the bench of Roma, among these signatures was that of the great writer Ennio Flaiano, romanista fan and author of the screenplays of the most important films by Federico Fellini. Unfortunately Bernardini has a contract with Reggina in Serie B and Roma isn’t able in freeing his position, they go towards disaster: on the thirteenth day at home, at the end of the first half losing 3-1 against Atalanta, who played in ten, ‘Rometta’ succeeds in missing two penalty shots, but thanks to goals by Tontodonati and Spartano the game ends 3-3. They follow with two defeats against Lucchese and Sampdoria and the firing of coach Balocieri: the team is entrusted to Piero Serantoni, but the season doesn’t change and the environment around the team becomes very intense.
On the eve of Roma-Bologna, player Tommaso Maestrelli gets fined for 20,000 lire for having returned from home late before the Roma-Bologna match: the fans reprimand Maestrelli saying that he’s not faithful to the jersey. Ironically, Tommaso Maestrelli would be the coach of the Lazio that brings them back to Serie A in the season of 1972-73 and leads them to winning the lope lope in the following year, 1973-74. February 18, 1951 Roma finally gives a test of pride beating at home Juventus for 3-0, but from that match followed five defeats consecutively among those a defeat in the derby by 1-2. On the thirty-third day, after a new defeat at home (Roma-Lucchese 0-1) Serantoni also gets fired: the team is entrusted to Guido Masetti one of the ‘vecchia bandiera’ (old flag bearer) of the team, ex-keeper of the Roma of Testaccio, in the extreme attempt of avoiding Serie B. The following Sunday Roma destroys Sampdoria 5-0, but they deal with a illusion because during the season they lost too many points, so they arrive this way to the last day of the cursed season in nineteenth place, one point away from eighteenth occupied by Padova. Padova hosts the Napoli of Amadei at home, whereas Roma wins 3-0 against Milan who were already mathematically campione d’Italia. Amadei gave everything he had to help Roma, but he’s forced to leave in the first half due to a terrible foul towards him. In the locker room the old Amadei,’il fornaretto di Frascati’ (“the small oven from Frascati”), one of the most loved romanisti players of all time, pours out bitter tears: Padova beats Napoli 2-0, Roma in Serie B.
In Rome the city lives this day with great pain: the great Roman actor Renato Rascel, one of the greatest Italian actors of all time, learns of the news while in the theater: Rascel goes out on the stage and pronounces, with tears in his eyes, this famous sentence: “Signori, da questo momento la Roma è in Serie B. Ma la Roma non si discute, si ama!” (‘Ladies and Gentlemen, from this moment Roma is in Serie B. But Roma is not argued, it’s loved!”. La Roma non si discute si AMA: it’s all here, the spirit and the heart of the fans of Roma, from yesterday, to today and to tomorrow; it’s all here, in this phrase that will remain in writing for decades on giallorosse scarfs of Roma fans that are sold outside the Olmpico.
It’s June 17th 1951: the fans gather spontaneously going down the streets to the center and formed a procession behind a banner they made: “La Roma è sempre la prima squadra del mondo” (‘Roma is always the first team of the world’). This is our History and the History becomes correct for those that merit it: exactly 50 years after, June 17th 2001, the children and grandchildren of those proud fans would go down in the piazza to celebrate Roma’s third lope lope! This was the final standings in the 1950-51 season: Milan 60, Inter 59, Juventus 54, Lazio 46, Fiorentina 44, Bologna and Napoli 41, Como 40, Udinese 35, Palermo and Pro Patria 34, Novara and Sampdoria 33, Atalanta 32, Lucchese, Triestina and Torino 30, Padova 29, Roma 28, Genoa 27. But, in the summer of 1951, there wasn’t time for tears, Renato Sacerdoti firmly takes control of the society with the purpose of returning as quickly as possible to Serie A: Maestrelli, Tontodonati, Tessari and Bacci all get let go; players adapted to the Serie B style of play come in, experts in this category like Acconcia, Perissinotto and Bortoletto. The top scorer of Serie B of last season gets signed, Lorenzo Bettini, the excellent Carlo Galli and the keeper Albani. The coach is the great Gipo Viani, inventor of the tactic called “Mezzo Sistema” (‘Half system’) or “Vianema” which brings the base to the most famous Italian invention of football ‘Catenaccio’.
At that time, teams were only guarantee promotion to Serie A from a first place finish because the reduction of the number of teams in Serie A went from 20 to 18 and therefore the second place team in Serie B had to play a play-off game with the third last team in Serie A. The only objective is, therefore, first place, you’re not allowed many mistakes. This was the base formation for Roma in the season of 1951-52, the only season disputed in Serie B by the capital team in all it’s history right till 2002: Albani, Tre Re, Cardarelli, Acconcia, Bortoletti, Venturi, Andersson, Zecca, Bettini, Galli, Sundqvist. On the first day, September 9, Roma beats Fanfulla 2-1 with a double by Carlo Galli, nicknamed by the fans “testina d’oro” (‘golden head’), who remained a giallorosso for five seasons collecting 123 presentations and 54 goals. Roma close the away leg with a victory over Verona for 1-0 (January 27, 1952): campione d’inverno (winter champions). That was a definite march by Roma and without interruptions towards the return in Serie A: which became almost mathematically certain on the last day of the championship with a dominating 6-0 win at home over Siracusa: goals by Cardarelli, Merlin, Zecca, Galli and a double by the great Andersson. June 22 1952, draw at home against Verona, Roma closes in first place and another party in the streets of the capital city, with yet another historical coincidence: exactly ten years before, on June 22 1942, Roma won it’s first lope lope. This was the final standings for the Serie B season of 1951-52: Roma 53, Brescia 52, Messina 45, Catania 44, Genoa 42, Piombino and Treviso 41, Modena and Salernitana 39, Vicenza and Verona 38, Fanfulla and Siracusa 37, Marzotto and Monza 36, Venezia and Livorno 34, Pisa 31, Reggiana 24, Stabia 18.
In their only season in Serie B Roma was not abandoned by it’s fans: in 1951-52, Roma was the second team in absolute (behind Milan) for the number of paid spectators among all the societies in Serie A and B. Thanks to the excellent attendance of that season and of new subscriptions (season ticket holders) it was possible enough to conduct a good transfer market to guarantee Roma a good team for Serie A, because no more would our colors be known in Serie B. In effect, after Juventus and Inter, Roma is the team that has one of the most number of presentations in Serie A. This cannot be said for our cousins Lazio who in Serie B passed a long 11 years. Arriving was the milanista attacker Renosto, the wingback from Genoa Azimonti and the two azzurri national team players Piero Grosso and Pandolfini. The cherry on the cake came from Palermo: the Danish champion Helge Bronée. But, because of the new Dane, Gipo Viani leaves Roma because both fought during their days when they both played for Palermo. Also to point out that the return of keeper Tessari from Fiorentina, who was sent on loan and Lucchesi. Leaving instead were Andersson, Risorti, Acconcia and the mediocre Knut Nordahl. November 1952, the great Renato Sacerdoti returns to his position as President and we can say, without a doubt, that he deserves it from what was seen on the field.
The return to Serie A was marked by a dignified championship which concluded with a sixth place finish which also had some moments of glory like the 3-0 win against the always hated Juventus who, actually from that defeat, lost the lope lope in favor of Inter. The players most loved by the romanisti were, Bronée, tremendous class, but discontinuous and had a very difficult character, in fact he succeeded in fighting with all of his teammates and even with the executives. But the fans loved him the same. In the summer of 1953, Sacerdoti announces a new great signing: the World cup champion from Uruguay (Italian origins), Alcide Ghiggia signed for Roma. Alcide Ghiggia was surely one of the great protagonists in the history of Roma. Extraordinary right foot, not strong physically but excellent technically, he was author of the goal that sunk Brazil in the final of the World Cup in 1950. Ghiggia arrived to Roma 27 years old, debuting in the 1953-54 season with a goal against Genoa He remains in Rome for 6 championships, playing 201 games and scoring 21 goals. But his private life was quite shady: even though married, he was very attracted by under age girls and he was caught in some legal troubles for being found with a 15 year old girl. He was also convicted for two months in jail for “indecent exposure in a public place” and at the end Roma was forced to sell him to Milan where, in the season of 1961-62, the Italo-Uruguayan won the lope lope. Despite the money earned during his long career, he was poor and at the end of his turbulent existence ended up working at Casinò di Montevideo.
Roma closes the championship of 1952-53 again in sixth place but during the transfer market came the Hungarian champion Stefan Nyers, protagonist of the scudetti won by the great Inter of 1952-53 and 1953-54. Again on the bench sits another foreign coach, speaking of English trainer Jesse Carver. But the year of 1953 should be above all remembered for the debut of the Stadio Olympico (Olympic Stadium), the actual field where AS Roma play today. December 26, 1954 it’s another particular date in the history of AS Roma. The talented scout Montanari suggests to Bologna (a very important society in those years) two emerging players from Cremonese, the center midfielder Noli and a certain Giacomo (called “Giacomino” for his low stature) Losi. The president of Bologna responds to Montanari: “You take the dwarf, we will take Noli who will certainly be a national team player in the future”, so this is how Montanari knocks on the door of Roma to signal Giacomino. A myth was born: March 20, 1955, Roma-Inter 3-0, debuting on the field for the first time with a giallorossa shirt Giacomo Losi and the legend says that Jesse Carver before sending him on the field said to him in broken Italian: “Dove tu passare non crescere erba. Tu capito?” (‘Where you pass, grass doesn’t grow. You understand?). Giacomo Losi, universal player in midfield just like in defense, is the one man that wore the giallorossa jersey the most times in the history of AS Roma collecting 452 presentations, 389 in Serie A, 28 in Coppa Italia, and 39 in UEFA cup games, winning one Coppa Italia and one Coppa delle Fiere. It’s impossible to describe with the right adjectives a champion of his style and of his correctness that on the field he always gave to Roma and even more. Enough is the nickname that the fans of Roma gave him: Giacomino Losi was simply “Core de Roma” (‘Heart of Roma’).
The 1954-55 championship concludes with an excellent third place position behind Udinese and Milan: this was the best finish for Roma since the end of the Second World War and this way Roma returns to international competitions in Europe to play for the old Coppa Europa Centrale. Roma would be eliminated in the quarter finals by the Yugoslavian formation from Vojvodina (4-5). During the summer of 1955 Jesse Carver decides to return to England, this is how on the bench of Roma comes the Italo-Hungarian Giorgio Sarosi. Another important arrival and that of the first Brazilian (with Italian origins) in the history of AS Roma, talking about the talented attacker Dino Da Costa who still holds today the record for most goals scored total in the derbys, 9 goals in three seasons (1956-1959), but who should be surpassed by SuperMarco Delvecchio who follows with 8 goals. Roma concludes the season seeing the triumph of Fiorentina of the beloved Bernardini in fifth place and in the summer of 1956 arrives to the end a career of another great name, the Swedish attacker of Milan Gunnar Nordahl who played with Roma 34 games, scoring 15 goals. Bringing to the end a glorious career, Roma decides to pay him “gettone” (‘tokens’), that is, in base on his presentations on the field. September 14, 1956, DA Costa inaugurates his happy traditions at the derby: Lazio-Roma 0-3, with a double by the Brazilian, but the 1956-57 season represents a great delusion for the giallorossi colors who finish the year in fourth last place. The only positive is that the goal scoring title goes to the great Dino DA Costa with 22 goals, Nordahl stops at 13 goals.
Due to a mediocre coach, Sarosi, and of a very scarce defense, Roma doesn’t succeed in that season, their great offensive potential. For the season of 1957-58, the new trainer of Roma, according to tradition, appoints another foreigner, an English man for precision, Alen Stock, partnered by the Italian, Antonio Busini. But, according to the tradition in those years, it doesn’t last long and dismissed after four months. Long are the years of the great Garbutt or of Schaffer. On the bench of Roma alternate Nordahl and the ex-coach Sarosi for a couple of seasons, inside the society the ideas are more or less confused, Sacerdoti gets older and on March 18, 1958 abandons his presidency. This is how the good Sacerdoti explains his decision: “For us old presidents sport has been romanticism, sincere passion, and today we cannot accept it as a business or as an advertising vehicle. Other presidents will come, we must go.” April 27, 1958, Anacleto Gianni gets elected as the new president of Roma. In June of the same year returns the Coppa Italia that wasn’t played since 1942-43, Roma closes the championship with a decent fifth place.
The visiting ticket of Ancleto Gianni is acquired with the buying of the Lazio star, Swedish attacker Arne Selmosson: 135 milioni paid by Roma to serve Lazio, who find themselves in desperate financial conditions, hardly able to enroll in the Serie A championship. These are the years with which Italian football experiences radical transformations regarding the business side of things: old and glorious societies like Bologna, Torino, Genoa are declining and the three big from the north- Juventus, Inter and Milan – thanks to their economical power become absolute ‘bosses’ of Italian football. Roma gets recognized for withstanding this transformation and holding their great dignity, and to not have ended like these societies Pro Vercelli, Pro Patria or Triestina who nearly disappear from Italian football, or as the same Lazio who up until the ’80s were up and down, in humiliating ways, from Serie A to Serie B, going more times to very nearly breaking up. In the same year arrives the young keeper Fabio Cudicini, one of the greatest keepers in the history of Italian football.
Roma closes the season of 1958-59 in the middle of the standings and this championship is remembered for the only victory away from home by Roma, in the away leg, was in the derby against Lazio (1-3 with the usual double by Da Costa and the poisoned goal from ex Selmosson) and for the two matches played with the giallorossa jersey by Carlo Mazzone who would be, in the ’90s, the beloved coach of Roma. The team, in this strange season, is protagonists in several big games, like the 8-0 victory over Napoli coached by Amadei, which also included by I romanisti four hit posts, or for the return leg derby won by 3-0 and it must be remembered because it was the last derby played by DA Costa who scored again, naturally. But the team didn’t have continuity. Remembering being eliminated in the quarter finals in the Coppa delle Fiere (the mother of the Coppa UEFA) after an unlucky draw 1-1 with the Belgium side Union-Saint Gilloise (Da Costa’s scoring the goal).
In the summer of 1959, two new important arrivals: finally the arrival of a stable coach and prepared, speaking of the Italian Alfredo Foni, ex World Cup winner in 1938 national team defender and coach of Inter Italian champions for two times. The other new acquisition was the Italo-Argentinian attacker Pedro “Piedone” Manfredini a player destined to enter in the hearts of the Roma fans, he stays with Roma until the summer of 1965, playing 164 games and scoring a solid 104 goals. Piedone introduces himself very well with a double in the derby against Lazio on October 18 1959, derby won for 3-0 with a final goal by Selmosson and the another new humiliation for the laziali cousins. Roma closes the championship in seventh place and doesn’t do better in the Coppa Europa Centrale where they get eliminated in the first round by Spartak Trnava.
Summer 1960 finally marks a turn in the ambitions of the capital society with a suitable transfer market: arrival of “Sua Maestà” (Your Majesty) the Italo-Uruguayan Juan Alberto Schiaffino, one of the most strongest players in the history of world football of all times. A sublime player or as Luigi Bonizzoni describes: “la scienza calcistica al servizio della squadra” (‘the football science at service to the team’). But unfortunately Schiaffino arrives to Roma at the age of 35 and he stays for only two seasons. Another quality arrival was represented by the Italo-Argentinian Francisco Ramon Lojacono who played for I giallorossi for 84 games scoring 36 goals. Also noted is a splendid product from the Roma youth system, the Roman Menichelli. Roma starts the ’60-’61 championship with great determination: victory at Bari for 0-3 with a triple by the great “Piedone” Manfredini, who repeats with the this performance of the last Sunday against Udinese with another triple (6-1) and scores again at home against Torino for the third consecutive victory by Roma (1-3, the other two goals were by Lojacono and Orlando). The march by Roma continues with a victory against Spal in home (2-1), but Napoli interrupts the streak where they beat Roma 3-2 against a Napoli reduced to nine men.
But the following Sunday arrives a beautiful 0-4 win in a derby (Losi in the derby) in the home of Lazio: third triple of the season for Piedone Manfredini and a goal by Orlando, contemporarily Inter is defeated by Padova, thus Roma is in the lead in the standings. Manfredini confirms his uproarious form scoring yet another new triple in the following Sunday at the derby, against Padova, Roma wins again (3-1) and maintains their lead in the standings. At the end of the game a fan in prey of glory enters on the field with an enormous flag and completes a lap around the field waving an enormous flag while people applaud him. Unusual scene at that time, the newspapers wrote about that and the Society was willing to present him with a season ticket in the Tribuna Tevere, but he remains loyal to La Curva Sud where he begins to direct the most ‘colorful’ fans, where you could hear the cries of “Daje Roma Daje!” (“Go Roma Go!). Thus is born the legend of one of the most popular fans in Roma’s history. 40 years after, the Sunday after his death, Capitano Francesco Totti goes and places a bunch of roses under the vespa of Dante parked under the Curva Sud.
Even in the international competitions things start to better, Roma overcome the quarter finals of the Coppa delle Fiere beating at home the Belgium side Union Sait Gilloise for 4-1 after having tied in Belgium 0-0. On the ninth day of the championship I giallorossi beat Juve at the Olympico for 2-1, but then follow with three consecutive draws (with Catania, Milan and Lecco) and on the thirteenth day of the championship arrives the first defeat, at home against Bologna for 2-1, and the loss of first place in the standings.
Then follows controversy, especially towards Ramon Lojacono, accused of scarce attachment to the jersey and they talk of the possible arrival of Nereo Rocco (the father of ‘catenaccio’ and one of the best coaches in Italian football of all time) to Roma. The negotiations between Rocco and Roma started well, but Rocco demands, as a condition for his arrival, the leaving of Alcide Ghiggia and the acquisition of Rosa a player that he trusts. But Ghiggia, well loved by the romanista fans, and the society interrupts the negotiations with Rocco: it’s said of a huge occasion lost, the year after Rocco goes to Milan, the team with which he wins everything, in Italy and in Europe! Nevertheless, Roma seems to have recovered well from their defeat against Bologna, beating Sampdoria, during the following match, for 3-2, but it’s a victory that costs dearly: two fundamental players get injured, Guarnacci and Giacomino Losi. But Losi, although injured, heroically remains on the field and scores with a header of 3-2, the goal that becomes for the fans of Roma “Core de sta città”.
They arrive this way to the big match among the first in the standings and the second, Inter-Roma at the San Siro: we get defeated by 3-1, despite the initial advantage scored by Schiaffino, so then Inter starts to break away. In March they played the play off of the quarter finals of the Coppa delle Fiere with the Germans of Cologne (Roma won 2-0 at Cologne, but the Germans won 2-0 at Rome: at that time there wasn’t the rule of penalty shots), Roma wins for 4-1 with a double by the usual Manfredini and the qualifications of the semifinals is played against the Scottish team Hibernian.
The away game was played on April 1961 at Edimburough and ends 2-2, whereas the return leg, April 26, finishes with another draw, 3-3. At the time the rule of the away goals counting double didn’t exist at the time, and it was necessary to play another play off: May 27 Roma destroys Hibernian 6-0 with four goals coming from the great Manfredini, one from Selmosson and one from Menichelli and they qualify for the finals that would be played in October against the English team Birmingham.
In the championship however they finish with the usual fifth position and the coach Foni gets substituted with the Italo-Argentinian Luis Carniglia, the coach of the great Real Madrid of Puskas, Gento and Di Stefano, one of the strongest teams of all time. But Carniglia starts off right away fighting with two important players of Roma, Manfredini and Lojacono, and asks for the acquisition of the Italo-Argentinian attacker Antonio Valentin Angelillo, who played for Inter. Another important acquisition in the summer of 1961 was represented by the midfielder Sergio Carpanesi who remained with Roma for six seasons, wearing the giallorossa jersey for 192 times and scoring 4 goals. September 27 they played the away leg of the Coppa delle Fiere at Birmingham, the final result was 2-2: for the English scoring were Hellawell and Orritt, for Roma a double by Manfredini. The return leg was played at the Olympico on October 11, 1961, this was the formation for Roma that won the Coppa delle Fiere thanks to a 2-0 final (own goal by Farmer and goal by Pestrin): Cudicini, Fontana, Corsini, Pestrin, Giacomino “Core de sta città” Losi, Carpanesi, Orlando Jonsson, Pedro “Piedone” Manfredini, Angelillo, Lojacono.
But the 1980s signalled the next golden era in the club’s history with four more victories in the Coppa Italia in seven seasons. Better still, in 1983 Roma’s top-class side finally won the Serie A title and it looked like they were poised to repeat this triumph on the highest European stage, though a year later -in their own stadium – they disappointingly lost the European Champion Clubs’ Cup final against Liverpool FC on penalties.