Daniele De Rossi's personal message to all those who have influenced his career, on the eve of his final game for Roma...
“Why are you laughing, lad?”
“Because I’m happy!”
“But why are you happy?”
“Because I have a Roma kit!”
“But isn’t it a fake?”
“No! And my aunt stitched on the numbers!”
“So what if I told you, that you will grow up to wear that kit more than 600 times?”
“I’d say that just once would be more than enough for me!”
Looking back at that photo of me as a boy, a photo that everyone came to know very well, I realise just how lucky I have been – a good fortune that I have never taken for granted, yet one I can never be grateful enough for receiving. It has been a long journey, an eventful and intense one, but always one driven on by the love I have for this club.
I do not want to leave all that gratitude unspoken, though. When I write down the words ‘Thank you’ it is not abstract feelings and emotions that come to mind, but the specific faces and voices of all those that I encountered along the way.
Please, let me say thank you to everyone at Roma that I came to know:
The Sensi family, and President Pallotta.
All the women and men that have worked, and continue to work, at Trigoria.
The coaches that shaped me; all of them – without exception - taught me something important.
The medical staff that always took care of me; and Damiano, without whom I would certainly have made fewer appearances for this club.
My teammates, the part of the job I always enjoyed the most – they are my family. That daily routine, those times in the changing room at Trigoria, will be the thing I miss most of all.
Bruno, who saw something special in me and brought me into this club’s fantastic academy. It was there, one morning in August, that I first met Simone and Mancio – we have been friends ever since, and will be for the rest of our lives.
Thank you Davide, I know you will be alongside me for the rest of my life too.
Thank you to Francesco. The captain’s armband I wore was inherited from the arm of a brother, a great captain and the most incredible footballer I have ever seen wear this shirt. Not everyone gets to play alongside their idol for 16 years. Now, with respect, I will pass this armband on to Alessandro. Another brother, one that I know is equally worthy of the honour.
Thank you to mum and dad, for instilling in me two values that I have carried with me every single day: to never do to someone else something you would not want them to do to you, and to always offer a hand to those in trouble.
Thank you to Ostia; to its people and its coast. You helped raise me as a child, you spurred me on as a teenager, and you welcomed me back as an adult.
Thank you also to those who supported me - and suffered with me - within the walls of our home: without Gaia, Olivia, Noah and especially Sarah I would be half the man I am today.
Thank you to every Roma fan, my fans. Today, at least, I’ll allow myself to call you ‘my fans’ – because I was one of you, out there on the pitch, and the love you have always shown me helped me to keep on doing that. You are all the reason why I chose this city, this life, time and time again. Sunday will be the 616th time I make that choice, the right choice.
A few years ago, May 26 became a day where we all thought we would never be able to smile again. I thought that too, at least until I saw a tattoo one fan had inked that read, ’27 May 2013, and yet the wind continues to blow’. I don’t know the owner of that particular tattoo, but I do know that the wind will still blow again on this May 27. I have never felt your affection like I have done in these last few days, it has truly overwhelmed me and touched me to my core. Never have I seen you all united for a cause like you have been for this. But now, the greatest gift you can possibly give me is to leave that pain and anger to one side, and start again in full support of the only thing we all care about, the one thing that comes before everyone and everything – Roma.
No-one will ever love you more than I do.
See you soon,
Daniele De Rossi