De Rossi and the managers whose first European ties were in charge of Roma

When Daniele De Rossi was appointed Roma head coach in January 2024, one of the biggest tasks he had to prepare for was involvement in the Europa League.

De Rossi was still playing the last time Roma were in the Champions League, but since his retirement they had won the Europa Conference League and reached a Europa League final (both under his predecessor Jose Mourinho).

Having only managed SPAL in Serie B before Roma, De Rossi quickly had to try and step up his managerial game in view of Roma’s Europa League knockout play-off tie against Feyenoord in February 2024.

Here are all the other bosses to have overseen their first match in a UEFA competition after being appointed by Roma.

Daniele De Rossi – 2024 

Roma and Feyenoord have built up quite the rivalry in recent years, facing off in UEFA competitions in three consecutive seasons, including the 2022 Europa Conference League final.

Before the animosity properly developed between the clubs, De Rossi had been involved as a starter during both legs of their Europa League round of 32 tie in 2015, from which Roma advanced.

Fate put Roma and Feyenoord up against each other for the right to claim a round of 16 place again – albeit now in a slightly different competition format – in 2024.

The first leg at De Kuip saw De Rossi’s Roma fall behind, but an equaliser from Romelu Lukaku left the tie in the balance before its second chapter in Rome.

Likewise, Roma came from behind to draw 1-1 in the second leg, which went all the way to penalties. Mile Svilar saved two from Feyenoord as Roma advanced at their expense yet again, this time not with former Champions League winner Jose Mourinho in charge, but with a novice (in coaching terms) in De Rossi.

Luis Enrique – 2011

Luis Enrique would go on to become a Champions League winning manager with Barcelona, but sadly his ventures with Roma in Europe – and indeed the league – never got too far off the ground.

Enrique had been earning his stripes with Barcelona B when Roma made him their first new manager of the American-ownership era in 2011, hoping he would bring an exciting new brand of football to Italy.

Enrique’s first game in charge of Roma was a Europa League play-off clash away at Slovan Bratislava, which was a 1-0 defeat.

Simone Perrotta levelled the tie on aggregate back in Rome, but the Slovakian side equalised on the night late on to deny Enrique’s side a place in the group stage.

Enrique stepped down from his job at the end of the season after failing to secure any European finish for Roma who came seventh in Serie A. However, his subsequent achievements made losing him a source of regret upon reflection.

Vincenzo Montella – 2011

After Claudio Ranieri’s departure in February 2011, iconic former Roma striker Vincenzo Montella was brought in as caretaker manager for the rest of the season.

Ranieri’s last Champions League match in charge of Roma was a 3-2 defeat at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of the round of 16, but it was over to Montella to try and overturn the deficit a few weeks later.

Sadly, Montella led Roma to a 3-0 defeat in Ukraine, a game in which Philippe Mexes was sent off in the first half, ending their European journey. They would be absent from the Champions League in the next three seasons.

Carlos Bianchi – 1996

Despite previous spells in France with Reims and Nice, the Argentine Carlos Bianchi had to wait until Roma appointed him in 1996 to manage a UEFA match. By then, though, he had already won the Copa Libertadores in South America with Velez Sarsfield.

In the first round of the 1996-97 UEFA Cup, he led Roma to a 3-0 home win over Dynamo Moscow, thanks to a Daniel Fonseca brace following up Damiano Tommasi’s opener, and then a 3-1 win away, with those two players scoring again (as well as Daniele Berretta).

Roma were knocked out in the next round, though, by Karlsruhe, and Bianchi became infamous as the coach who considered selling Francesco Totti until club seniors intervened and chose to sack the manager instead not even one year into his reign.

What followed suggested Roma chose the right side of that conflict, but in fairness to Bianchi too, he did win three more continental trophies in the early 2000s with Boca Juniors.

Honourable mentions

While this feature has focused on managers whose first experience in UEFA competitions came with Roma, there is also the matter of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, a tournament classed as official by FIFA but not UEFA.

During Roma’s time in the competition, four separate managers led them in continental action for the first time in their coaching careers.

In order, they were: Gunnar Nordahl (1958), Alfredo Foni (1960), Juan Carlos Lorenzo (1964) and Oronzo Pugliese (1965). Nordahl won his first European game 3-1 against Hannover and led Roma to the quarter-finals; Foni won the whole thing at the first time of asking, despite the journey commencing with a goalless draw at Union Saint-Gilloise; Lorenzo also started with a 0-0 blank away at Aris but took Roma to the round of 16 eventually; and Pugliese lost in the first round to Chelsea, with a Terry Venables hat-trick contributing to a 4-1 defeat in the first leg in London.

A word also to Alessandro Spugna, who led Roma Women – and himself – into the Champions League for the first time in 2022, winning against Glasgow City first up and eventually leading the Giallorosse to a quarter-final defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou.

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