Padraig Whelan Date: 8th March 2013 at 12:19am
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There is no place like home and there is perhaps no football side in the peninsula who exemplify this more than Roma.

Hometown heroes seem to be the modus operandi of bringing youth players through at Trigoria and we were given another example of the proof of this on Sunday night’s clash with Genoa.

The club icon who grow up in the city’s San Geovanni region sent a delightful corner into the Grifoni penalty area that was headed home by a man making his full debut at the age of 18, in Alessio Romagnoli.

Hailing from Anzio, a city in the Lazio region and less than 40 miles from the capital itself, he is another of the incredible youth products that this club continues to produce.

“It was unbelievable, I still cannot believe it and am struggling to believe it happened to be honest,” he said after the game of the goal which already has pundits tipping him for the top.

Perhaps not as unbelievable as the conveyor belt of talent that continues to produce players of exceptional quality.

They could have already overtaken Atalanta’s famed youth sector as the best in the peninsula and one of the most crucial things that their academy seems to promote outside of exciting talents is a real sense of belonging to the club and loyalty.

Romagnoli could be the latest star to make the step up from the Primavera and be primed for a long career at the club, as they have often promoted, especially if he progresses as he is expected to.

Zdenek Zeman was a massive fan of the youngster who helped lead the club to the Coppa Italia Primavera last season and who played many of their games during pre-season and  it was somewhat surprising that the attacking-minded coach had not given him a chance before his sacking.

Totti is the most famous example of local youth product come good at the club, having been there for 24 years now since joining from his childhood club Lodigiani and shows no signs of letting up.

The classic one club man and one of the last remaining bandiera in calcio, his tale has been told so many times that it is better just to let the statistics speak for themselves.

24 years, 525 appearances, 225 league goals, 666 times on the field in total with 280 strikes and an assist count of 122 as well as a Scudetto, two Coppa Italias and two Supercoppa Itailanas with too many individual records and honours won to speak of.

The man widely tipped to take his place when the day comes when he hangs up those magic-making boots is the ‘Capitano Futuro’ as he has been known as for many years, Daniele De Rossi.

Another world class talent as good as any midfielder on the planet on his day and yes, another boyhood fan and product of that youth system.

He joined them from Ostia Mare where he had caught the eye as a goalscoring centre forward but as a city boy born and bred and being the son of ex- player and Primavera coach Alberto De Rossi, this club has always been in his blood.

Aged 29-years-old, he has already broken the 400 appearance barrier for the club that he loves and could soon be forming a formidable midfield partnership with Alessandro Florenzi.

Yes, as you may have guessed the aforementioned youngster who has shot to fame this season for his consistent displays under Zeman, is a fan since birth and was also brought up within the capital.

It was there that he came to the attention of i Lupi scouts and was quickly snapped up. He shares an interesting career parallel with Romagnoli because in his first start with the club, he too headed home a cross from Totti to announce himself to the world in a 3-1 win over Inter.

That may be the Roman rite of passage for a young player then and it must be a phenomenal feeling for a young player to have the club’s greatest ever player (arguably) and a man they no doubt idolised growing up, being the one who has set them up for a moment they will never forget.

No matter how far you go back, there is evidence to suggest that this is no flash in the pan or recent formula for success that the club have stumbled across.

Guido Masetti played for the club his entire career after arriving as a youngster in 1929 and the goalkeeper went on to become a key part of the club’s success in claiming their first ever in 1942.

In 1969, a sublimely gifted 14-year-old named Agostino Di Bartolomei joined their youth set-up and went on become one of the finest players of his generation, outrageously never capped for Italy, with a passing range to marvel any and captained the fantastic side of the ’80s to the 1983 league title before tragically committing suicide 10 years to the day after they lost the European Cup final to Liverpool.

Giuseppe Giannini, like many of the current equivalents in the squad, was born in Rome, supported the club all of his life, played in the Primavera and then had the privilege of lining out for the club for 14 wonderful years and continually turned down offers to leave in order to stay with the club that he loves.

Italy may not produce many wingers but perhaps the greatest of them all, Bruno Conti, is a man who is still revered to supporters having grew up with them, played for the club for almost 20 years (and was a member of that irresistible 80s squad) before going on to manage the club’s kids team, Primavera and taking temporary control of the first team, proving that he will do anything they ask.

The list goes on of classy talents that make this club a very Roman by bringing through local lads who would repay the faith shown in them: Amadeo Amadei, Cesare Fasanelli, Arcadio Venturi, Alberto Ginulfi, Alberto Aquilani, Aleandro Rosi (taken from Lazio’s youth side into their own) and Alessio Cerci to name but a few.

Best of all for Roma, it seems that this outstanding tradition is set to continue for a while yet.

Looking at the current crop of players in their Primavera, there is certainly potential for one or more of these players who are Roman boys to make the step up and prove themselves in the senior side.

Striker/winger Marco Frediani is born in the city and has been a member of the squad for the past two years and could become the latest name to prove the rule. In 21 competitive appearances this campaign, he has eight goals and an assist to his name.

Another capital kid, Matteo Ricci, could follow that same path and is certainly showing the potential to do so as well as brother Federico Ricci.

There is a famous saying in Italy about the capital that “all roads lead to Rome”, that is of course, unless you had the good fortune of being born in the Eternal City and were blessed with a great footballing ability.

In which case, you have already made it and have a good chance of becoming the latest idol of the Curva Sud who love nothing more than one of their own doing them proud.