A celebration of Camelia Ceasar, Roma Women’s first centurion goalkeeper

Camelia Ceasar is the goalkeeper with the most appearances for Roma Women in their history to date and reached the landmark of 100 games for the club on 13th January 2024.

Ceasar has followed outfield players Annamaria Serturini, Elisa Bartoli, Giada Greggi, Manuela Giugliano and Andressa Alves in joining the Giallorosse’s 100 club.

And on her route to becoming a Roma centurion, the appropriately named shot-stopper has provided some memorable moments to write her name into club folklore.

Ceasar’s journey with Roma began before their second season, when she was brought in to compete with original number one, Rosalia Pipitone. Quite quickly, Ceasar became the regular starter.

Pipitone conceded three goals in the opening game of the season, so Ceasar came in for her debut the following week against Fiorentina, behind a back four of Bartoli, Tecla Pettenuzzo, Allyson Swaby and Kaja Erzen. She kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 away win.

Overall, during her debut season in the capital, which was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the former Torino, Brescia and Milan keeper was selected in 14 matches, in contrast to Pipitone’s five.

Ceasar’s second season saw new competition arrive in the shape of Rachele Baldi, but the Romanian remained the preferred option. Pipitone made her final appearance for the club in the 2020-21 season, Baldi played 12 times and Ceasar 19. One of those was particularly significant.

Indeed, Ceasar was the starter for Roma’s first ever Coppa Italia final, against her former club Milan. She kept a clean sheet at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium in a game that finished 0-0 after extra time.

It led to the first instance of many when Ceasar has come into her own during a penalty shootout. She saved efforts by Vero Boquete and Christy Grimshaw to put her team in a strong position. Ultimately, it was up to Vanessa Bernauer to score the famous winning spot kick for Roma.

Thanks to her standout form, Ceasar was named the AIC Player of the Month for May 2021, but it was undoubtedly the collective honour of winning the Coppa Italia – something she had done twice before with Brescia but as a substitute in both finals – that will have meant the most.

That fateful first trophy was simultaneously the start of something serious for Roma and the end of an era as head coach Betty Bavagnoli moved into a boardroom role and chose Alessandro Spugna as her successor.

Spugna stuck with Ceasar as his number one – prompting Baldi to leave in January 2022 amid the arrival of Emma Lind – as Roma reached the Coppa Italia final again and also qualified for the Women’s Champions League for the first time thanks to a second-place finish in Serie A Femminile.

Ceasar played 22 times in that campaign, conceding only 20 goals and being the starter in Roma’s record win, an 8-0 scoreline against Sampdoria in which the focus was admittedly largely on the other end of the pitch.

The subsequent season, everything Roma had achieved until then would be eclipsed by bigger accomplishments.

Ceasar will go down in history as the main goalkeeper in the first Giallorosse squad to win the Scudetto. She played in 18 league games – more than Lind (6) and Stephanie Ohrstrom (2) – on Roma’s route to winning the title.

There was another trophy along the way, as Ceasar once again shone in a penalty shootout for Roma to beat Juventus to the Supercoppa Italiana. This time, she saved penalties by Cristiana Girelli and Sofia Cantore and was named the best player of the match.

It was not her first penalty shootout of the season. Early in Roma’s Champions League campaign, she had been decisive against Paris FC, saving against Clara Mateo, to ensure a place in the group stage.

A later highlight of Ceasar’s season was when Roma Women played at Stadio Olimpico for the first time in a Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona. She faced 34 shots but, to her credit, only conceded one goal as Roma suffered a narrow defeat on the big stage.

Roma wrapped up their first ever Serie A title exactly a month after that night under the Olimpico lights, with Ceasar starting the mathematically decisive win over Fiorentina (who coincidentally had Baldi in the other goal).

Nine years after first becoming one with Brescia – and for the third time overall in her career but first with Roma – Ceasar was a champion of Italy.

She was rewarded with a new contract at the end of it, committing her future to Roma until 2026.

“I fell in love with Roma, the city and its people as soon as I began my time here four seasons ago”, she said at the time, before adding: “I’m so proud to keep representing Roma.”

In the title defence season, Ceasar has once again not been an undisputed starter, this time sharing her gametime with Finnish veteran Tinja-Riikka Korpela, but has maintained the larger proportion of gametime so far.

Outing number 99 was in the Supercoppa Italiana defeat to Juventus in Roma’s first game of 2024, before she hit the 100 milestone the week after against Pomigliano.

Naturally, she marked the occasion with a clean sheet in a 3-0 win. This time, the back four she was behind included Bartoli, Elena Linari (who is likely to become the next player to reach 100 Giallorosse appearances after her), Moeka Minami and Lucia Di Guglielmo.

In her post-match interview, Ceasar revealed she only realised it was her 100th appearance at half time.

“They told me between the first and second half, but I didn’t know anything, I don’t take these things into account,” she explained.

“However, I’m pleased, because I’m very attached to this shirt and I’m very happy to represent it.”

Ceasar’s 100 appearances for Roma consist of 70 appearances, 10 in the Coppa Italia, four in the Supercoppa Italiana and 16 in the Champions League.

She has kept 38 clean sheets across her 100 games, including 27 in the league, six in the Champions League and five in the Coppa Italia.

Over the course of her spell with Roma so far, Ceasar has proven herself to be a reliable operator between the sticks. Yes, there are better goalkeepers in Europe, but as Roma’s story has progressed, Ceasar has regularly felt like the right one for them.

Somewhat phenomenally, given that the Roma side she joined was still one in transition and has only become the force they are today through a gradual process of development, Ceasar has never conceded more goals in a Serie A Femminile season with the Giallorosse than the number of games she has played in that relevant term.

Still only 26 years of age, Ceasar has deservedly been gaining more prominence with her national team over the past 12 months or so as well. But it is her club status that is being celebrated right now.

Perhaps a quote from Bavagnoli back in the summer, at the time of Ceasar’s contract extension, best sums her up.

“Camelia joined Roma without a great deal of fanfare, but thanks to her humility and hard work she soon became a vital member of this team.”

Betty Bavagnoli

And she has plenty more chapters to write in this story with Roma.

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