Del più bravo tra i sgherri romaneschi, che più d'ogn'altro mentovà se fava, de sentì raccontà non vi rincreschi

At half time, it looked to be over. The hit Mexès took to his knee just before the break was bad, he was ruled out to play. Montella started coaching Cassetti to replace him. But as the two stood on the sideline as the second half was about to start going over final instructions, Mexès showed up from nowhere. Knee still tattered, but mind made up he hobbled onto the pitch determined to play and win. Footballing legends have been spun on less material than that. Then he was forced out only five minutes afterwards. In hindsight, with full information of the injury's extent, it's baffling that he made it that long at all.

Carried out then, against Juventus of all teams. In a game Roma would go on to lose, to make his sacrifice all the more wasted. It is both cruel and appropriate that it ends like this. The ways in which it is cruel are numerous and obvious. The reason for why it is fitting is perhaps less evident: throughout his career, Mexès has been mocked for many things about his persona. The tattoos, the hair, it's all been used to decry him and his worth as a man and footballer. Far be it from me to defend neck tattoos in the form of stars, but that misses the point that Mexès is one of the most dedicated and toughest players in the league. If actively risking his health in order to try to win a game against the team he sees as so antagonistic isn't proof of his dedication to the club and the shirt he wears, I don't know what would be. There's no way he didn't know he was hurt bad as he took the field again and he knew he was risking a lot, but he did it anyway. Isn't that what we usually ask of players? There's nothing that can or will change that in the future, no exceptions for signing with another club.

I hope this wasn't Mexès's last game for Roma. I'm rather fond of him, for more reasons than being the club's best defender. The way he has embraced and come to represent the Roman mentality obviously enamors him to me, along with thousands of other fans. I remember the tears almost one year ago when Roma lost lo scudetto, those painful tears on the bench. I know what it meant to him, because it meant the same to me. And to you.