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On This Day: Damiano Tommasi makes his Roma debut

Twenty five years ago, a young midfielder made his first appearance for the Giallorossi...

The following day, the newspapers were circumspect in their assessment of his performance: with all his ratings sitting between 6.5 and 7.5.

By the harsh standards of Italian journalists, however, this was tantamount to a seal of approval for the 22-year-old Damiano Tommasi, who had made his bow for the Giallorossi.

That game, a 4-0 win over Piacenza, took place on 7 September 1996. It certainly would not be the last for a player who would go on to become one of the most beloved of his generation.

That future was not necessarily always clearly signposted in that first campaign, one that was made tougher by a certain amount of managerial upheaval. But over time Tommasi - a box-to-box midfielder, a destroyer, a playmaker as the situation demanded - would prove his worth at the heart of a side that, over time, would be built up to the point it would win the Serie A title in 2001.

Tommasi was often the player willing to sacrifice himself in order to allow his teammates to thrive. Yet, over the fullness of his career with the club, he would go on to become as idolised by the Curva Sud as almost any of his illustrious companions on the pitch.

"Perhaps fans recognised that I knew what my limitations were and yet I did everything I could to overcome them," he said, when asked later why he thought there was that bond.

"My approach to games - that desire to give 100% - was something that I think the fans always want from their heroes. And then being part of a winning team does the rest."

"From Roma I got all you could hope for if you opened your arms and prayed to the gods for it" Damiano Tommasi

Damiano went on to represent the club for 10 years, making 351 appearances in all competitions and scoring 21 goals.

The last of those came against Treviso, in May 2006. He left the club that same summer, ending a chapter with the club - but not the story of affection between player and fanbase.

 
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