“I heard about Nela because every time I went home to Piedmont the plane would stop off in Genoa. Everyone talked about this kid at Genoa with real promise so one day I decided to stop there and see him in action.”Nils Liedholm
“Everyone says Nela is wasted on the right but then he's our best player against Köln and comes joint second with Agostino, because Falcao is always the king! Liedholm is always coming up with something new and if he didn't tell the odd fib he'd be San Lidas Liedholm. He's rebuilt the Testaccio Roma and then some.”
That's what Fulvio Bernardini wrote in December 1982 after becoming completely convinced that Roma had put together a team capable of brushing aside all opposition. And the 'Divine Fulvio' made a point of underlining Sebino Nela's importance in the Giallorossi's game.
The defender had joined Roma the year before for a fee of three and a half billion lira cash plus co-ownership of Iachini, Romano and Capezzuoli. A massive outlay – even for a player who was considered one of the most promising youngsters in Italy at the time. But Nela never looked back.
He went from strength to strength, even when the team's form dipped. On 20 March, 1985, Roma were knocked out of the Cup Winners' Cup by Bayern Munich in a game that is remembered for the immortal reaction of the Curva Sud, who continued to rally the team for the whole of the second half. Bayern midfielder Soren Lerby commented: “It was an incredible experience, the best display I've ever seen from a crowd. I'll never forget it.”
That day Nela first went to console Tancredi, who guessed the right way on Lothar Matthaus' penalty but was caught out by a strange bounce on the line, then went and scored the equaliser with a rocket shot from the edge of the box.
Yet despite his goal, he walked back to his own half with his head down, sad in the knowledge that he couldn't repay such an incredible showing of support from the Giallorossi faithful with a win.
He would later be included in the Italy squad for Mexico '86 before suffering a serious injury on 10 May, 1987. Some newspapers said his career was over. Italian singer-songwriter Antonello Venditti dedicated a song to him, ‘Correndo Correndo’: “The winger sets off, sells a dummy then sprints to the byline. Who's going to stop him?”
Sebino did pull on the Giallorossi jersey again and to this day remains one of AS Roma's best-loved players.
"I'm honored and proud. Personally being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a triumph for me. I wasn't born in Rome but I'm an adopted Roman, from the day I began the first of my 12 seasons at the club. In this long period of my life the most enthralling times always coincided with defeats. We won very little and we could have achieved more, but it was during the tough times that I witnessed displays of support which you won't find outside this city and this club. That's when you see how great the Giallorossi support is, when you learn what it means to be at Roma."Sebastiano Nela