In the latest edition of our History Makers series, we remember Vincenzo Montella, Roma's 'Little Aeroplane' that helped the Giallorossi soar to the Scudetto in 2001.
With a predatory instinct in front of goal, an infectious attitude to the game and the sweetest of left foots, Montella was loved wherever he went.
None more so than in Rome, where the slight-framed former Italy international claimed Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italia winners' medals during a decade-long association with the club.
He even stepped in as coach when the club needed his steady hand to guide them, and it's little wonder Montella's picture now hangs in the club's Hall of Fame.
VINCENZO MONTELLA - L'AEROPLANINO
Born 18 June 1974 in Naples' Pomigliano d'Arco municipality, Montella emerged from the youth ranks at USD San Nicola, but at 12-years-old was signed by Empoli, where he made his first team debut at just 17 alongside future Roma coach Luciano Spalletti.
He then joined Genoa in 1995, and Montella scored in the final of the last-ever Anglo-Italian Cup to help seal the trophy at the end of his first - and only - season with the Grifone.
That impressive campaign brought about a move across Liguria to Serie A outfit Sampdoria, where his 66 goals in 116 matches were enough to persuade Roma into bringing the then 25-year-old to the capital in 1999.
Montella's arrival - a month after making his Azzurri bow - coincided with Fabio Capello's appointment as head coach and the two would have a hugely successful, if at times testy, spell together in Rome.
A return of 21 goals in his maiden campaign in yellow and red is still only bettered in a single Giallorossi campaign by Rodolfo Volk (24 goals in 1928-29) of any debutant in the club's history and seeing the clinical, diminutive forward in action immediately drew kind comparisons from an Italian legend.
"He's the striker who most reminds me of myself," said World Cup winner Paolo Rossi, to the delight of his heir apparent.
"It's true that I'm similar to Paolo and I'm pleased that he has said certain things about me," was Montella's reply.
Montella's formula of pounce on the defence, find the back of the net, spread arms wide in celebration was rinsed and repeated throughout that first year with Roma, as he struck an immediately productive relationship with Francesco Totti and Marco Delvecchio.
Following a sixth-place finish in the league, Capello wanted yet more firepower and bolstered the Roma front-line with the addition of Gabriel Batistuta.
It would prove a masterstroke as the newly assembled strike force fired Roma to a third Scudetto in their history.
Despite holding onto the No. 9 shirt upon Batistuta's arrival, Montella was often the makeweight to accommodate his Argentinian teammate, but the Italian's contribution to the cause that season was as significant as any other player in the side.
Montella scored a number of crucial goals along the way, hitting winners against Atalanta, Brescia, Inter Milan and Reggina, as well as critical equalisers against AC Milan and Juventus.
Without those, Roma's championship win may never have happened, and his 91st-minute effort against eventual runners-up Juventus on Matchday 29 looks even more impressive in hindsight as the Giallorossi ended up ahead of the Old Lady by just two points.
Ramming home his love of big game goals was Montella's strike on the final day of the season, making it 2-0 at the time to set his team on course for a 3-1 win over Parma that guaranteed the Serie A crown.
Totti is one man who will never forget the role Montella played and while naming Antonio Cassano as the best player he played with, L'Ottavo Re di Roma quickly acknowledged Montella in the same breath.
He said: "Then there’s Gabriel Batistuta, Vincenzo Montella, those players who made football history. They should be remembered because it was a pleasure to watch them and I was fortunate enough to play alongside them too."
Capello would describe Montella as "a great player in the penalty area" and his five goals across the final seven games of the 2000-01 campaign further highlight the impact the Neapolitan had in getting Roma over the line.
But, having started just 12 times in Serie A that season, there were personal frustrations for Montella. Ones that he would regret in later life.
"Undoubtedly as a footballer I was a fool, I always wanted to play, especially in that period," he reflected.
"We were winning the Scudetto and I felt stronger than the others. But managing me like that, making me angry, Capello knew how to bring out the best in me. I left Rome when I realised that I was no longer angry."
It would be a number of years before Montella did depart Rome, and although injury would prove a frustrating nemesis to the remainder of his career, there were significant moments still to come.
None more so than Montella's four-goal heroics in a 5-1 victory in the Derby della Capitale in 2001-02, where he tormented Alessandro Nesta in a display that Totti said greyed the centre-back.
Montella had started that same season with a goal in the Supercoppa Italia win over Fiorentina, while 2004-05 resulted in the best goalscoring return of Montella's Giallorossi spell as he found the back of the net on 21 occasions in Serie A alone.
Three goals as captain in two Coppa Italia appearances in 2006-07 helped seal cup glory that year, before loan moves to English outfit Fulham and former club Sampdoria.
The curtain eventually came down on his playing career in 2009 after 101 goals in 258 appearances for his club and three goals in 20 international caps that included Italy's golden goal defeat to France in the final of Euro 2000.
After a decade on Roma's books, it was clear that the bond between player and club was unbreakable, with Montella saying: “A piece of my heart is in Rome."
Here are five of his best goals for the Giallorossi…
1. The one every fan remembers...
vs. JUVENTUS (a)
06 May 2001
For sheer importance, Montella's last-gasp strike against title-contenders Juve has to make the list.
Fellow second-half sub Hidetoshi Nakata's long-range rocket is parried into Montella's path by Edwin van der Sar and - so typical of Montella - it's the Roma striker who reacts quickest to divert home.
The ensuing scenes of celebration will give you goosebumps to this day.
2. The individual brilliance
vs. AC MILAN (h)
27 May 2001
“What a player! A No. 9 with a rare nose for goal, he was a player of phenomenal technical ability," said fellow 2001 Serie A winner Francesco Antonioli of his former teammate.
"He scored loads of goals that year, even though he often came off the bench, and some of them were real beauties: his wonderful lob over AC Milan goalie Sebastiano Rossi’s head was just fantastic."
It really was something to behold.
3. The rocket
vs. LAZIO (h)
10 March 2002
One of his four against the other team from the capital was another essential entry in Montella's top-five goals and it's his fourth that does so.
Each of his other three make World Cup winner Nesta look like a pub-team footballer, but no-one could do anything about this.
Montella picks up the ball just outside the opposition box and rifles home via the crossbar with that ever so trusty left-boot to seal a memorable night in style.
4. The final day heroics
vs. PARMA (h)
17 June 2001
By no means the sexiest of Montella's Roma goals but another one steeped in significance and probably the creator of the best aeroplane celebration of his career.
Batistuta's effort is well saved, but that man Montella is again in the perfect place to tap home and send Roma on their way to the title.
A goal that sums up the kind of intelligent movement and goal scoring intuition that were staples in his career.
5. The measured finish...
vs. INTER MILAN (a)
6 April 2003
There was something inevitable about Montella entering the field and snatching late draws or wins for Roma.
It was the former this time, with Roma trailing 3-1 after 77 minutes before Luigi Di Biagio and Montella - you guessed it, a second-half sub - salvaged a point.
Montella's effort to make it 3-3 in the 84th-minute is sublime, as he uses his defender's body to bend it round his opponent and perfectly land the ball in the bottom far corner with Francesco Toldo nowhere near it.
What happened next for Montella?
Upon his retirement, Montella immediately took up a coaching role with Roma's youth team at the beginning of the 2009-10 campaign and by 2011 he had stepped into the Olimpico dugout at the end of Claudio Ranieri's tenure.
It was a rapid ascent for Montella to become caretaker boss, but it was an opportunity that he couldn't refuse given his love for the club.
"I prepared for it, but without deluding myself," Montella said of how he came to his decision.
"I thought it through by looking at all the pros and cons, at the problems the team have had... and I thought about what was the worst that could happen, and how I would tackle the potential problems."
Roma won seven, drew four and lost five of Montella's 16 games in charge, finishing sixth before Luis Enrique took over the reins full-time.
Montella, who was inducted into Roma's Hall of Fame in 2013, would go on to coach Catania, Fiorentina (twice), Sampdoria, Milan and Sevilla.
He won the Supercoppa Italia with the Rossoneri in 2016, and Montella would never rule out returning to Roma in the future.
“A return to Roma? In football, anything can happen, maybe one day…"