“We were team-mates for ten years and tasted success together, playing countless matches at each other’s side. I know him very well and can say he’s one of the most genuine, unselfish people I have ever met in the world of football.”
Damiano Tommasi was – and remains – the perfect example of the modern defensive midfielder. He was able to build the play with surges forward and expert passing, while providing ample protection for the defense behind him at the same time. A colossus in terms of breaking up the opposition’s play, Tommasi spent a decade in the heart of the Giallorossi engine room, helping to maintain the equilibrium between the various parts of the team and providing an invaluable contribution to Roma’s offensive play.
His humility on and off the pitch, unerring commitment, consummate professionalism and technical skill made him a firm favorite with some of the legends of the Italian game, who saw their brand of football reflected in the classy Tommasi. Indeed, Tommasi received high praise from 1942 World Cup winner Paolo Jacobini, who called him “an example to follow” on more than once occasion.
Part of the Roma side that tasted Scudetto glory in the 2000-01 season, Tommasi also won the Italian Super Cup in 2011 and the European Under-21 Championships in 1996. In addition to this, he traveled to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan with the Azzurri senior side.
Perhaps the best moment of his Giallorossi career came on January 7, 2001, when he scored the second goal in Roma’s 0-2 victory over Atalanta in Bergamo and came close to adding a third on a number of occasions. It was a stellar performance from Tommasi, who was simply unplayable throughout. The image of Tommasi punching the air in celebration that day remains one of the most iconic snapshots from the glorious 2000-01 season.
“It’s a great feeling to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but I must say that I don’t feel that I’m on the same level as my fellow members. Standing alongside the greats of Roma’s history feels a bit like spending a day with your heroes. My stay at Roma was one of ups and downs – but thankfully not in that order. That doesn’t happen often, in fact it usually goes the other way round. Seeing my name in the Hall of Fame is a reflection of how my career at Roma finished on a high. I only realized just what I’d left behind a few years after I’d departed. It was in the build-up to a Chievo v Roma match and I’d been invited by a group of Giallorossi fans to have dinner alongside some Chievo supporters. My parents were there too and it was an emotional moment that hit home that I was no longer a Roma player. They made me realize that it was more than just the footballer they missed.”