Padraig Whelan Date: 22nd May 2019 at 7:36pm
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A lot has changed in Italian football in not such a long period of time.

Nobody else wins the Scudetto anymore aside from Juventus, the Milan clubs are no longer the powerhouses they once were in Europe and the top tier has been populated by clubs who wouldn’t have been fit to grace it two decades ago.

But the biggest and saddest change of all is the loss of one of the greatest aspects of calcio: the bandiere, which were a dying breed in recent years and look to be on the brink of extinction.

Players synonymous with one club (even if some weren’t technically ‘one-club men’) such as Paolo Maldini, Francesco Totti, Javier Zanetti, Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Di Natale began to slowly fade out of the game.

Thankfully, we still had some great servants to embrace and give us that sense that all may still be the way it had been. That is, until now.

Totti’s understudy in the Eternal City and the ‘Capitano Futuro’ Daniele De Rossi will play his final game for Roma this weekend and then surprisingly be allowed to depart.

It is an unfitting exit for a man who gave his hometown club so much for so long and who still has something to give having shown this season that he is still capable of being at the very least a bit-part player at this level.

He isn’t happy about either and for all he did for the Giallorossi, he deserved to finish his career at the Stadio Olimpico on his own terms. His bitterness is more than understandable.

Further north, another of the great symbols of one club, Sergio Pellissier, is stepping away from the game and his beloved Chievo at the age of 40 after racking up over 500 appearances and 139 goals.

Things have ended on a low point for him with relegation to Serie B but that won’t sour his own individual legacy too much.

The same goes for De Rossi in the capital but both the Stadio Olimpico and the Bentegodi will look like different places next year without such staples of the side.

Other long-serving players at other clubs are also walking away in the summer, with Andrea Barzagli ending his association with Juventus and Ignazio Abate set to depart Milan.

Look around the rest of the league to see how men of their ilk are becoming a thing of the past. Inter’s longest-serving player is Andrea Ranocchia but even he has spent time away from the club in recent years and didn’t come through the system there.

At Lazio, just one player has represented the club longer than a decade but even Stefan Radu was brought in from Roma. Federico Chiesa is too talented to stay at Fiorentina much longer.

When he departs Tuscany, there will be no senior player on the books at the Stadio Artemio Franchi who has been at the club for longer than two years!

That isn’t just a Serie A trend but one across football in general in an era where success is desired immediately and players move on quickly as a result of that need to pick up three points every weekend.

Loyalty is certainly not a trait that is associated with the modern game anymore. It is too tempting to take the offer of more money elsewhere or sacrifice loyalty for trophies in order to move on from a club where you are adored.

A difficult decision that may be but it is one that you can’t blame players for making, particularly when competing in such a short window to accumulate both medals and wealth.

But Italy always seemed to be different and had those symbols at clubs who not only their own supporters but football fans in general could point to with pride.

This end of season wave of farewells is a bigger blow than most as it is taking away a few more men in the last of a dying breed.

So cherish the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Lorenzo Insigne and Alessandro Florenzi while we still have them at their respective clubs.

When it is their turn to say goodbye then they may be the last bandiere to do so.