Birthdays, Bombs and a Final Bow

It's tempting to think of Giorgio Rossi as an institution within Roma, someone who's been around for as long as the club has. He's the gentleman who's always just there, and has been for as long as all but a few of us can remember: he was hired by the club in 1961, and has remained ever since. Today he celebrates his 79th birthday, hopefully with a win tomorrow, which the players would dedicate to him, as is the tradition every game around October 31st, year after year.

Here he is by Totti's side, a few years ago:

He's seen them all come and go; he's been an integral part of all of their lives in AS Roma. From Santarini to Agostino; from Bruno Conti to Ancelotti; from DDR to Aquilani; from Falcao to Toninho Cerezo; from Voller to Montella; from Balbo to Batistuta; from Cesar Gomez to Adrian Pit; from Aldair to Mexès; from Liedholm to Capello; from Zeman to Spalletti; from Giannini to Totti.

And, of course, Damiano Tommasi. He plays his final match as a footballer today, and though it is in China and far from Rome, it's hard not to be with him in spirit on this day. Tommasi is perhaps the most beautiful of footballers: he defines altruism, and showed that even in the day of modern football,  being a footballer doesn't necessitate a primary concern for more money, more recognition, more of the good life. It's also possible to - not necessarily for the love of the game - waive virtually all wages and play for the minimum wage allowed for a year. It's possible to concern oneself primarily with charity projects, and a genuine compassion for the next man. Tommasi may have had limited feet, but he is the most beautiful footballer all the same.

In what could be construed as an attempt to incite prison riots inside temporary jail training ground Trigoria where the players are locked in, someone launched a bomba carta outside the gates, which is a homemade device. Even if you don't know what it is, you've almost certainly heard them: they're the things that go off during games, that can make it sound like the apocalypse is near. Or it could just be more protests against the team, of course, although it's not easy to locate the rationale behind such idiocy which serves no one.

No one was harmed, and La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that hardly any players even bothered to go out of their rooms to check what the ruckus was about. While I admire their tranquility, it's difficult to resist reflecting on the fact that players in Rome have grown immune to events like this. It's a very special climate.