Late (An Impossibly Short Bildungsroman)


It's easy to forget–god knows he's not giving out any hints by the quality of his game–but last night Greco played only his third game of the season. It is tempting to put them down as his first games ever at the top level of football, but lost somewhere in our collective memories is his brief features for Roma eons ago. Quite possibly in a galaxy far, far away, because I'm completely blanking on it. (Click here to see Greco's first steps in serie A during the year of the four emperors.) In between then and now, the five years that have passed include one full serie B season (in which he played in just over 60% of Verona's games), one six month stay in serie B with Piacenza, and one season in serie C. "...Now I'm in the shop class or the basket weaving with all the rest of the muh'fuckers underachieving/Man, this is an insult..." 

You all know it by now, how he came on against Basel and scored the winning goal before he'd yet broken a sweat. You know he came on in the derby and denied false prophets, potentially crushing expectations, and adages about Romans not being able to play well in derbies. "...I think I was made for that/So I'm comin' in when I feel like..." And you know that last night against a Fiorentina which somehow, some way, could have gone level with Roma in the case of an away win (which feels very odd since my perception of them is as a team in crisis) he once again played very well. In the 75 minutes he played he misplaced three passes–out of 44 in total. "...I'm so live with it, look how I did it/Been bullshittin' but I finally arrived with it..." What makes me want to start up a fan club in his name is not his extraordinary skills with the ball at his feet (to the best of my knowledge, he has no such extraordinary skills), not a shot that makes Riise ask for advice (he wouldn't think of doing that, in large part because Greco's shot doesn't seem extraordinary either), nor any lightning speed off the ball. What makes Greco's entrance into the big time seem so seamless is instead the ability to stick to the basics. Fundamentals built this footballer. He knows how to do most things relatively well, he knows when to do themand just as importanthe knows when not to. "...If I can catch the beat then slow down the tempo..." This all sounds pretty underwhelming in print, I realize, but it's a valuable skill to have a vision for what goes where, one not to scoff at. Is it enough? Enough isn't the point, his success should never be measured in binary fashion, between starting player for a top team or not. Just proving he can hang in serie A is already a success.

So it's too soon, much too soon, to start pontificating about a great future which holds fame and fortune. "Will I make it from the student loans to a Benz-o?/Like old folks pissin', I guess it all depends, oh, oh..." I would certainly not take any such thing for granted–essentially three games of top level football, remember?–but it is positively charming that he's bridging the gap from serie B and serie A with such serenity and calm. Another thing that calls out for our attention is Ranieri's continued trust in him, even as there are other options available (such as Brighi, so Greco's play time is no last stand before we forfeit the game or Bruno Conti starts warming up). Also, Ranieri took the Roma job with the reputation of killing the dreams of young players, after his lack of trust in Giovinco. He can take pride in this mini-vindication as Giovinco hasn't been good even after Ranieri's firing, and Greco just stepped in and stepped up. "... I know it's late and I took all year but you can stop complaining 'cause I'm finally here..."