They don’t make players like Carlo Ancelotti anymore.
Nobody in today’s game is able to break up the opposition’s play and get his side moving again like Ancelotti could, let alone exhibit peerless technical skill in the process.
Ancelotti spent eight years at Roma, a period that saw him develop from Serie A debutant to Giallorossi captain and national team starter.
Carlo’s legacy at the club is one of countless triumphs, not least the 1982-83 Scudetto and four Coppa Italia wins. Yet equally important to Ancelotti’s Roma career was the bond he forged with the city and with the Giallorossi fans.
In his autobiography, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius, Ancelotti wrote: “Rome is a wild city, the capital of my heart. I don’t know anything about Milan, but I know everything about Rome. I learned to live there, although I have a strange, disenchanted relationship with the good moments – I don’t really remember them. In football and in life – including my private life – it’s the disappointments that stay with you more, but I don’t have any great desire to speak about them. The 1983 Scudetto was my greatest victory.”
During his stay at Roma, the biggest disappointments for Carlo came in the shape of injuries. Twice he sustained serious injuries, forcing him to miss two whole seasons and ruling him out of Italy’s victorious World Cup campaign in 1982 and the galling European Cup final of 1984.
Ancelotti’s arrival at Roma was as much down to the intuition of Nils Liedholm as it was to the ferocious determination of Dino Viola, who beat off fierce competition from Inter and Juventus, among other Italian powers.
Right from the start, the former Parma man showed he was cut from a different cloth.
Paulo Roberto Falcao declared him to be ‘Italy’s best player’, whilst Johan Cruyff couldn’t hide his admiration, predicting that Roma would reach ‘at least the semi-finals of the European Cup’. Even the great Diego Maradona identified him as one of the keys to the Giallorossi midfield.
Yet Carlo remained a humble man and a great champion.
Many years later, when asked what it would have meant to him to play alongside Francesco Totti, Ancelotti replied: “Marco van Basten once told me that all I needed to do was focus on passing him the ball and then running after him to celebrate once he’d scored. It would have been the same thing with Francesco.”
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