Giacomo Losi, the greatest non-native captain of Roma and one of their most-used players of all time, has passed away at the age of 88.
Roma legends do not come much bigger than Losi. While hometown heroes Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi may have eclipsed him in modern minds, Losi long before became synonymous with the club, despite not being from the city of Rome himself.
Coming from the Province of Cremona, Losi joined Roma as a teenager in 1954 from Cremonese, who he had just helped win promotion to Serie C. It was the start of an association with Roma that would last until 1969 – and far beyond then on an emotional level.
Losi made his Serie A debut against Inter in March 1955, helping Roma keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 win. It was the first of his 455 appearances for Roma (or 471 if counting miscellaneous cup competitions such as the Coppa Delle Alpi, Coppa dell’Amicizia and the Pequena Copa del Mundo).
Until Totti overtook him in the 2006-07 season, it was a record appearance tally for a Roma player. But it wasn’t just the intrinsic weight of Losi’s numbers that made him a Roma legend; it was the values he expressed within his appearances.
For example, the story of the first of his two goals for Roma is the stuff of legend. He was injured in a January 1961 (pre-substitution era) game against Sampdoria, but remained on the pitch in a position of less pressure than his usual role in defence – and ended up scoring the winner.
A few months later, Losi further wrote himself into folklore by playing for Roma just one day after an appearance for Italy, having originally just thought he was returning to wish his teammates good luck. Responding to his manager’s call to play, he produced a goal-line clearance in an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-final against Hibernian. Roma went on to win the whole competition as their first European trophy.
It was the first of three honours Losi won with Roma, preceding two Coppa Italia successes in 1964 and 1969, his farewell year (in which he admittedly played little).
As captain since 1959, Losi lifted trophies as Roma’s undisputed leader. In fact, he wore the armband for more than three quarters of his Serie A appearances (299 out of 386).
Through all that time, he played fairly, never receiving a yellow card until the final match of his career against Hellas Verona in November 1968.
After becoming a founding member of the AIC – the Italian Footballers’ Association – Losi remained in Rome thereafter to spend a season in the fourth tier with Tevere Roma before hanging up his boots for good in 1970.
A career in management followed, including spells in charge of Lecce, Salernitana and Bari, with whom he won a league title in Serie C. His last spell on a touchline, with Juventus Stabia, ended in 1986.
In 2012, when Roma launched their Hall of Fame program, Losi was one of the first 11 players to be inducted, embedded forever into the club’s history.
A couple of years later, De Rossi became the second – and still most recent – player to overtake his appearance tally for Roma. All three of the players on the podium of appearances for the club showed immense loyalty, but the fact that Roma weren’t even Losi’s boyhood club made his commitment special in its own unique way.
Giacomo Losi came to be dubbed ‘the Heart of Rome’. And although his own has stopped beating, his reverberations will continue to be felt for as long as AS Roma exist.