Roma World No.9: New Zealand

In the ninth installment of Roma World, travels to New Zealand to meet Enzo, a native Kiwi who's Italian roots have kept him close to the club he loves...

Name: Enzo Giordani

Age: 40

City: Auckland

Country: New Zealand

Where did you grow up?

"I was born in Auckland (New Zealand’s biggest city). When I was three my family moved to a small town in the Waikato region where I lived until I got a job and left home at 18. I am now back living in Auckland and have been here for 20 years."

Why did you choose Roma?

"My father was born and grew up in Sermoneta, a medieval hill town about 86km south of Rome in the Latina province of the Lazio region. He was very proud of his heritage and gave me the middle name ‘Romano’. I have a lot of family in Italy, who I love, and they generally all support either Roma or Lazio. For me it was always going to be one of the two. To be honest the initial choice was political. I am politically active on the centre left and did not want to be a part of a club that has the far right associations that Lazio does. So that was the original reason, but since then I have well and truly fallen in love with Roma for many, many other reasons!"

What is your first memory of Roma?

"The 1984 European Cup final. Serie A was never on TV in New Zealand when I was growing up. The first time our pay TV network showed it was in the late 1990’s. Before that the results weren’t even in the newspaper so there was no way to follow Italian Football that I knew of, apart from the Italian National Team in the World Cup – that’s where I got my grounding as a football fan. But English Football has always been big here so when Liverpool was in the final vs Roma in Rome, that was big news. I was only 8 at the time but I do remember it because of Grobbelaar’s ‘jelly legs’ in the shootout – I just remember thinking “what an idiot”."

Who was your first Roma hero and why?

"Like a lot of other people, it’s always been Totti. Being a massive Azzurri fan as well, he’s always been not only the Roma captain and our best player from a young age, but also the consistent Roma representative in the national team up until 2006."

Who has been your favourite Roma manager and why?

"I have to say Spalletti. Not just for the results but also his style of football and his personality. I just love the guy. Zeman would be a close second for the same reasons. Guy’s a madman. I love quirky figures."

What has been your lowest point supporting Roma?

"That’s tough. It’s a close call between three things. The most recent sacking of Zeman stands out, because it divided fans and it was generally unpleasant whichever side of the fence you were on. I felt he wasn’t given the support and time you have to be prepared to invest when you make the initial call to hire a coach like Zeman.

"The 7-1 loss to Manchester United REALLY hurt.

"And the other one that really upset me for very selfish reasons was the 2009 penalty shootout loss to Arsenal in the Champions League. The final was in Rome that year, I was going to be in Rome for it, and I really had my heart set on seeing Roma play in it.

I have a feeling that the impending retirement of Totti will top all of these though."

Have you been to a Roma match and if so, what was your memory of your first game?

"Yes, I have been very lucky considering the distance I have to travel! My first game was vs Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League in 2007, a 2-1 victory. I took my wife and my mother with me and the three of us shared the experience. Mirko Vucinic scored the most amazing goal I have ever seen live and when we got back to New Zealand a month later, ESPN were still replaying it over and over in all their ad breaks. I just kept pointing at the TV and shouting “I WAS THERE!!!” It made me so happy. A few days later I was at the derby vs Lazio, a 3-2 win, and that was something else again…"

Where were you when Roma last won the Scudetto?

"I was sitting in front of the TV at home watching it with my mouth gaping open… I really wished I could have been there but hopefully I’ll be there for the next one."

Do Roma have a passionate fan base in the city you live?

"Roma’s fan base in Auckland is very small, but it’s there if you know where to look. Wellington, our capital city, has traditionally had more Italian immigration than Auckland so there is more of an Italian community there and hence more Roma fans. I’d love to get a Roma fan club going in New Zealand one day so I can stop watching games at home with nobody to celebrate with apart from the cat! I have talked about it with a few others and it’s definitely on the to-do list."

Which team do you most enjoy seeing Roma beat?

"There are two. Definitely Lazio, not least because half my family in Italy supports Lazio. When we lose a derby I inevitably get text messages from them and I just have to wear it so I much prefer it when we win and I get to send the text messages to them!! I also really enjoy wins over Inter due to some of the bitter encounters when they were our scudetto rivals a few years ago. Last weekend’s game was no picnic either. That kick to the head that Pjanic suffered basically sums up why they are one of my least favourite teams."

What makes Roma so special to you? 

"That’s a big question. But when you boil it down I guess it’s a way for me to connect with my Italian identity. Rome and the surrounding region is my spiritual home, inherited from my father. I didn’t get to spend time with him growing up (he sadly passed away) so I wasn’t brought up in an Italian family and calcio has become one of the ways I express myself as an Italian and keep in touch with my roots."

What does Totti mean to you?

One of the special connections I feel to Totti is he is roughly the same age as me. The older we both get the more I enjoy being able to say, “yes, I may be starting to get a bit older and lose my hair, but look over there – the captain of Roma is my age!” Unfortunately that won’t last forever, but he will always be the best player I have ever seen play. I read the recent Four Four Two article on him about a week ago – it made much of how a lot of people in the English speaking world don’t really ‘get’ Totti. I feel sorry for those people because they don’t know what they are missing. When you learn to appreciate his deft touches, his subtle little flicks, the way he sees an opportunity nobody else sees and sets it up to perfection, you can’t unsee these things. He’s a legend and that’s all there is to it really. The best player Italy has ever produced, I believe. And when a player that good plays for your team his whole career, it’s a huge source of pride.

Who is your favourite current player and why?

Apart from Totti, it would have be Alessandro Florenzi. I love everything about him! His goals, his versatility, his Romanness, his goofy demeanour, his hair, his Nonna! Everything!!!

If you could meet anyone connected to Roma - past or present - who would it be and why?

I’d love to meet James Pallotta. I think he’s doing an amazing job and I love his straight talking no nonsense style – I think that’s exactly what the club needs. We don’t need any more hopeless romantics (even though I consider myself to be one!), we don’t need any more excuses, we need action and I believe that he’s a doer. I’d love to tell him about some of the things that are on my mind and hear more of his honest thoughts about where the club is heading.

What makes you most proud to be a Roma supporter?

The fact that the club represents the city of Rome – which is in my opinion the greatest city in the world by far. All that history, all that culture and, for me, my Italian roots. I am immensely proud of my heritage and Roma is a part of that.

Finally, what would be your perfect day as a Roma fan?

It’s the day of the Champions League final, staged in Rome. I get out of bed, stuff a Danish in my gob, down an espresso and head to Piazza Colonna where I grab a new scarf and maybe a t-shirt to remember the day by. Then I walk to Trastevere where there’s a big party going on. I join in the festivities, eat amazing food for lunch and dinner, then head to the Stadio Olimpico. Roma stages an incredible comeback to win 3-2 and lift the trophy!  Afterwards I gather with the fans at the Trevi Fountain to celebrate.

Twitter handle: @EnzoGiordani