“Without Venturi – without his technical skill and the morale boost that he gives as the team’s best player – the Giallorossi drift, gradually but continually. While he was on the field yesterday, Venturi was yet again the best out there.”Fabio Pirona, Il Corriere dello Sport
Just over a year ago, we visited Arcadio Venturi at his home in Vignola. After a long conversation, he pulled out a magazine with himself on the cover alongside Pepe Schiaffino and gave it to us, writing a brief message dedicated to the club: "In memory of the best period of my life."
That period lasted nine seasons from 1948 to 1957 and encompassed 209 appearances from this extraordinary central midfielder, who could also play further forward. Venturi's stint at the club saw him take on the baton from the last stars of the Testaccio era, win promotion back into the top flight after relegation and finally launch the generation of players who would go on to win the Inter-City Fairs Cup and then the first Coppa Italia in Giallorossi history.
The beginning of Venturi's time in the capital was a verbal agreement back on 19 July 1948, shortly followed by his signature in black-and-white after his local club Vignola "agreed to the conditions for the purchase" of the player. A low-key start to the career of someone who would develop into one of the finest captains in Roma's history.
Arcadio was such a good player that he managed to become the first to represent Italy while his club was playing in Serie B. He was also among the first Giallorossi stars to receive the national-team call-up after the Second World War.
A central midfielder who, when needed, could play in a more attacking berth, Venturi combined a tireless engine with individual technique that gave him the edge, whatever the final result. This was perfectly exemplified on 10 October 1954 when he scored a superb goal against Bologna that the news reports of the time described thus:
"He showed fine anticipation to intercept a pass from Cervellati to Pivatelli and plunged his way into the Rossoblu defence before unleashing a powerful and precise shot on goal. The ball, striking the inside edge of the left post, spun into the net."
A legendary captain, on one occasion he was even required to lend his leadership status as a guarantee for Alcides Ghiggia during the official debut of the Uruguayan winger on 13 September 1953. The South American No. 7, not yet having received his documents from the football association, was required to play "under the responsibility" of captain Venturi.
A bond forged by bureaucracy and moulded in the dressing room soon became a long-standing friendship, despite two completely different characters and playing styles, to the extent that Ghiggia named his son Arcadio. A rock to rely on whatever the opposition and the stage – Venturi's personal rock was and remains AS Roma – in 1957 he was forced to accept a move to Inter at a time when the club had to make the sale to get through a tough moment.
And so Venturi left, but not before leaving with one of the best farewells Giallorossi fans have ever received. In a goodbye letter published in Il Corriere dello Sport, he said: "They will never forget me, just as I will never forget them."
His induction into the Hall of Fame just proves how right he was.
“I’m honoured to be recognised in this way. I certainly wasn’t expecting it because it’s been 60 years since I played for Roma. I want to thank all the Roma fans and of course the panel, who have chosen me to be inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame. With the greatest respect for my other clubs, I can solemnly say that once you’ve played for Roma, you remain a Giallorossi player for life. I’m in constant contact with the club and that is unique – I really mean that. The fact that there’s always a place for former players in the stands is a mark of respect towards those that have contributed to the history of Roma. Forza Roma forever.”Arcadio Venturi