The more the years go by, the more evident it becomes that the world of football was simply not ready to comprehend the depth of a man like Agostino Di Bartolomei.
When asked who his idol was, Di Bartolomei would reply ‘Giorgio de Chirico’, to the bewilderment of journalists who could not quite decipher the meaning. And as the city of Rome celebrated the Giallorossi’s second Scudetto triumph in May 1983, Ago took to the capital’s most popular newspaper to write: “For the city this is an historic moment, and at this extraordinary time I would like to invite our wonderful public, our dear fans, not to fall into the trap of provincialism and not to get carried away with excessive celebration. It’s right and understandable that there be a big party, as long as it is celebrated in the permitted places. We should not forget that not everyone feels involved in the celebration and not everyone wants to be disturbed.”
You see, Di Bartolomei was full of surprises both in life and on the football field.
Whereas most players would take huge run-ups for free-kicks and penalties, Ago would take them almost from standing. Initially, the ‘experts’ thought it was some kind of pose, perhaps inspired by an old Western. Yet anyone who had the wherewithal to ask the man himself had it patiently explained to them that power was generated from the way you kicked the ball, not the length of your run-up: “You need to coordinate your movement perfectly. The ball should be kicked in an abrupt, decisive way, to harness all of the energy you put into hitting it. Your supporting leg should always be to the side of the ball, so that your other leg – the one you use to kick the ball – works simply as a lever. That’s it. And, of course, you need a huge amount of practice.”
Ago was always accused of keeping too quiet. In response, with a smile somewhere between shyness and irony, he would say: “I don’t speak much because it’s better than speaking too much, and there’s always a risk that nobody’s interested in what you’ve got to say.”
An immense player and a simply extraordinary human being, Ago is universally loved by the Giallorossi family. It is apt for us to remember now just how strong his sense of belonging to Roma was – he was a passionate Roma fan and this brought him especially close to the supporters, of whom he once said: “It’s moving to see them. And they deserve much more.” And so Ago gave them the Scudetto and every ounce of his soul.
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