Firstly, we’re wishing him a happy birthday because he is a Roma man through and through. There is nothing more Roman than the name of his father, Romolo, who was responsible for signing him up to a football academy after his mother could no longer stand him coming home all dirty and sweaty from the Santa Maria del Buonconsiglio parish on Via Tuscolana. He started out at Forlivesi and joined Roma in 1959 in exchange for 11 pairs of boots and a selection of shirts, winning two Juniores (Primavera) league titles right away.
Already at that time, he’d picked up his nickname “Picchio” or spinning top, referencing the classic wooden cone-shaped toy featuring a metal tip which spins when launched by a piece of string. He would never stand still, whirling round the pitch like a spinning top.
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because he is a Roma favourite. President Anacleto Gianni hugged him like a son or grandson when he won his second Juniores league title.
Juan Alberto Schiaffino, one of the greatest playmakers in the history of football, taught him to look his opponents in the eyes to anticipate their next move. When training with the reserves, Alcides Ghiggia said to him: “Picchio, come here: you’re the only one who can dribble with me.” Captain Giacomo Losi advocated for him to make his debut against Cologne in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, which Roma later won, and three years later, in 1964, he wanted him to be next to him at the awards ceremony.
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because he cried when he left Roma. He had no choice. He found out that he had been sold to Fiorentina and was very upset. People soon fell in love with him in Florence because he’s one of the greatest midfielders in the history of Italian football and the national team too. He won the European Championships in his hometown Rome in 1968 and played in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. That was when the so-called ‘relay’ between Gianni Rivera and Sandro Mazzola was going on, but one thing was for sure: Giancarlo De Sisti would always play. He played all 120 minutes of the game of the century between Italy and West Germany, finishing 4-3, because whenever you needed composure on the ball, he was the one you turned to.
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because when a journalist asked him what he thought of “Rometta” (little Roma) after he won the Scudetto with Fiorentina, he responded with: “I won’t refer to the club as Rometta because this name is sacred for me. I was born and raised in Rome and Roma and no football transfer will ever change that. I want to thank everyone, especially because I know that you have continued to follow me, even when I had to leave Roma. However, you know that it wasn’t really on me.”
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because as soon as he could, he returned to Roma. It was 1974 and things needed sorting out. As soon as he heard that Nils Liedholm was interested in him joining the Giallorossi, he asked the Fiorentina president not only that he be sold to Roma but for it to be at a reduced rate.
It didn’t take him long to get things back on track. On 1 December 1974, he scored the winning goal against Lazio and celebrated with an ancient Roman helmet gifted to him by the fans. His fantastic skills helped Roma to a historic third place.
He hung up his boots in 1979, at the age of 36, when he could no longer run around like a spinning top and when reading his opponents was not enough anymore. Almost no one managed to play in Serie A until the age of 36 at that time.
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because he cried once again for Roma. He had been appointed as coach of Fiorentina and on 12 April 1981, his team picked up a draw which meant Juventus caught up with Roma at the top of the league. Gian Piero Galeazzi shared what happened in his report for Rai: “Picchio cried in the dressing room at the end of the game. He could not hold back his emotions and the sorrow he felt for what he had done to his Roma.”
We’re also wishing him a happy birthday because when he left the club, they gave him a plaque which said the following: “From A.S. Roma 1979-80 to Giancarlo De Sisti, irreplaceable”.
He never forgot where he came from, however, because even when he worked for other clubs, he never had anything other than kind words for Roma. He never asked for anything but simply gave generously. Thanks to his kindness, the club’s historical archive is able to preserve the memories of an unforgettable player.
And so, we wish Giancarlo De Sisti the happiest of birthdays, not because of what he was but what he is: a hero, gentleman and true Romanista.
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