Torino Club Focus: The End Of An Era – Ciao Capitano
This Sunday, Torino meet Catania at the Olimpico in Turin in a match of little significance. On paper, at least.
It is the final game of a long season and Toro have already secured their survival meaning that the stadium should be in party mood but their will likely be a sombre mood surrounding the clash.
In that game, captain and idol to the support, Rolando Bianchi, will walk on to the field for the final time with those iconic claret colours proudly on show that have become part of his identity and will bid an emotional goodbye to the club.
The reasons behind him not being offered a new deal have already been discussed but nothing can change the fact now that Torino will be looking for a new striker, captain and hero next season.
It has been an overwhelmingly successful tenure in Turin for the 30-year-old since arriving in 2008 from Manchester City having shot himself into the top 10 scorers in club history alongside names like Paolo Pulici and Valentino Mazzola.
He has gone on to reach 76 goals for the club and scored his way into the top 10 at a very fast rate but it is not only his goals that have endeared him to the fans although undeniably this has done him no harm.
It is the passion that was always displayed by Bianchi. He gave everything he had in every game whether that be with the team 3-0 down away from home in Serie B to taking on the best Italy had to offer in Serie A.
His commitment was always the same, always exemplary and he is a genuine role model that there may not be enough of within the game and the fans have taken to Twitter to make their feelings about his departure and the man himself known.
Such is the measure of ‘Rolly’, that he has taken the time to acknowledge all of the plaudits and praise that come his way from fans for whom he deeply cares.
“You have entered our hearts and will never leave, always our captain”, “it is too difficult to think of Toro without you, it is much easier to imagine that you will not go”, “there will never be anyone like you, you represented the pride of the club, stay with us captain!” and “in Serie A and B, you represented all of us and we thank you for everything, we will miss you” are just some of the many reactions of fans to the departure of a man who is looked at as one of their own.
As for Torino, well things are not going to be the same at the Olimpico for some time.
Angelo Ogbonna continues to find a place in the fans’ hearts for staying with the club despite big club interest while everyone is on the edge of their seat any time Alessio Cerci weaves his wizardry on the wing but there will be a big number 9-shaped hole in the final third.
It is a gap Riccardo Meggiorini, Jonathas or Paulo Barreto will not be able to fill between them. One that perhaps even Edinson Cavani could not fill and that is having a striker and a captain who is also a fan and loved by the support as such.
He will receive a fantastic send off this Sunday and one that he deserves but it is going to take a little getting used to not seeing Bianchi hit the back of the net for another goal on his way to Granata greatness and respond by pumping his fist against the crest on his heart, ensuring fans that the delight he has just delivered them is means every bit as much to him as it does to the supporters.