STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome) – Daniele De Rossi marked his final game as a Roma player with a 2-1 Serie A victory over Parma at an emotional Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
The capital club’s second-highest appearance holder, behind Francesco Totti, pulled on the Giallorossi shirt for the 616th and final time to a raucous and colourful reception.
Lorenzo Pellegrini’s first-half volley gave Roma the lead, but Gervinho equalised late on to offer the visitors hope before Diego Perotti responded almost instantly with a headed winner.
The first chance of note fell to Gervinho, who was played through on goal after a counter-attack, but the Ivorian was denied as his curling finish was pushed wide by the diving Antonio Mirante.
Roma had struggled to create openings against a resolute visiting defence but broke through after 35 minutes when a poor clearance fell into the path of Pellegrini, who volleyed a finish home from the edge of the area.
While most of the emotion of the night was reserved for De Rossi, caretaker manager Claudio Ranieri was left in tears on the touchline when the Curva Sud unveiled a banner thanking him for his efforts to the applause of the capacity crowd.
De Rossi was substituted to a standing ovation late on and his departure opened the floodgates as Gervinho was played through to slide a finish past Mirante and equalise with just four minutes left on the clock against his old team.
Perotti got things back on script when he rose to head substitute Cengiz Under’s cross in from close range in the final minute of regulation time.
De Rossi says goodbye
This game was never really about three points. Or the Champions League race. Or the curtain coming down on the 2018/19 season. It was always going to be about Daniele De Rossi.
The club’s decision to let their captain go at the end of the season may have been met with universal disgust by the Roma support, but the home crowd ensured the main focus of the night would be on celebrating his career – with the occasional vocal protest at the ownership thrown in.
Every shot the midfielder took in the warm-up was cheered, his name was read out to a raucous reception, countless banners were unfurled in his honour before and during the game, and almost every touch he took on the pitch was applauded.
Although the 35-year-old doesn’t leave his boyhood club in a happy state, he does at least depart to the enormous acclaim of the public he has served for the last 18 years.
Solidity the start for Parma
If you had asked most Parma fans at the start of the season if they would settle for a XXth-place finish on their return to Serie A, most would’ve taken it.
Tipped for the drop by many pundits at the start of the season, Roberto D’Aversa’s side have instead enjoyed a campaign of consolidation in the top-flight that has included some memorable highs.
Last weekend’s win over Fiorentina ended a rotten nine-match winless run, but over the course of the season the bold Crociati have beaten Torino and Inter while holding the likes of Juventus and Milan to draws.
A 41 point haul on their first season back in the big time is a good job well done.