The weekend saw the senior Italy debut of Roma’s brightest prospects, Nicolo Zaniolo, increasing the already healthy number of internationals in the Giallorossi’s present squad.
Many of those internationals are experienced players who arrived at Roma having already pulled on the national shirt dozens of times. However, Roma has proven to be successful in developing young talent, and helping those that have not yet featured on the world stage develop into important players for their countries.
These are the 10 most recent players who were given their international debuts during their time at Roma.
Nicolo Zaniolo (March 2019, Italy)
This season has seen Zaniolo emerge as one of Italy’s most important players for the future, and national coach Roberto Mancini has been aware of his potential all along. Zaniolo was given his first Italy call-up before he had even made his Roma debut, or even played at U21 level internationally, but didn’t get to spend any time on the pitch.
Since then, he has grown to prominence even further with impressive goals in Serie A and the Champions League. The humble midfielder finally got to make his senior Italy debut on Saturday, entering as a late substitute against Finland. It surely won’t be the last time he plays for the Azzurri.
Leandro Paredes (June 2017, Argentina)
A player whose stock rose significantly during his time with Roma – thanks also to a fundamental loan spell at Empoli – Leandro Paredes arrived at the club in 2014 from Boca Juniors in his native Argentina. In his final season with the Giallorossi before departing for Zenit St Petersburg, the midfielder impressed, making 41 appearances in all competitions.
At the end of that campaign, he was rewarded by Jorge Sampaoli with his senior Argentina debut – a full six years since his last youth international appearance, at U17 level. Paredes marked the occasion by scoring in a 6-0 win over Singapore, but he left Roma less than a month later.
Alessandro Florenzi (November 2012, Italy)
After a season-long loan with Crotone had given Alessandro Florenzi the experience he needed to kick on his professional career, the midfielder returned to Roma intent on nailing down a place in the first team. That he was able to achieve, and three months into his first season back in the capital, he was selected by Cesare Prandelli for the senior national team.
Whilst injuries have disrupted his progress in his later career, Florenzi remains an integral part of the national setup, and has more than 30 caps to his name.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis (November 2012, Greece)
Making his international debut on the exact same day as Florenzi, the midfielder, who was 21 at the time, made his Greece bow against Republic of Ireland. He spent a sole season at Roma, making 23 appearances in all competitions, but beyond that, he still remained in the eyes of his national selectors enough to warrant a place in their 2014 World Cup squad.
Leandro Castan (October 2012, Brazil)
It still feels like a case of what might have been with Leandro Castan. The Brazilian defender was imperious for Roma in his maiden campaign in Italy, which saw him called up for the world’s most successful national team for the first time. Sadly, he only made one more cap, before a cavernoma was discovered in his brain that would keep him out of action for months.
It was a long road to recovery for the left-footer, and he was finally released by Roma last year. Since, he has fortunately been able to find regular playing time again, in his homeland with Vasco da Gama.
Mattia Destro (August 2012, Italy)
Mattia Destro was a player whose light shone brightly for a short period of time, before he disappeared into mediocrity. After a 12-goal season for Siena in 2011-12, the striker was snapped up by Roma for an eight-figure sum.
Sixteen days after making the transfer, Destro was given his Italy debut in a friendly against England. Seven further caps would follow over a two-year period, but he missed out on a place in the 2014 World Cup squad, and only played seven minutes of international football after that.
Fabio Borini (February 2012, Italy)
Fabio Borini made his Italy debut against the USA, midway through the season he spent on loan at Roma. His goalscoring exploits – he netted 10 times for the Giallorossi across the campaign – earned him a place in the nation’s squad for Euro 2012. However, he did not play at the tournament, in which the Azzurri reached the final.
Dani Osvaldo (October 2011, Italy)
Three months after joining Roma from Espanyol, Argentine-born Dani Osvaldo seized his opportunity in the absence of some of Italy’s main forwards. The controversial striker had previously represented Italy – the country of his great-grandfather’s birth – at U21 level, and made the step up to senior international football in a victory over Northern Ireland.
Jeremy Menez (August 2010, France)
Two seasons with Roma had brought 69 appearances for then-23-year-old Jeremy Menez, and Laurent Blanc gave him his first start for France in a friendly with Norway. The winger featured heavily for his national team over the next two years – during which time he left Roma for PSG – and earned a place in their Euro 2012 squad.
Max Tonetto (June 2007, Italy)
Max Tonetto’s one and only Italy cap came in June 2007, as he started at left-back against Faroe Islands in a qualifier for the next summer’s European Championships. The Azzurri won 2-1 through a Filippo Inzaghi brace.
Even though he lasted the full 90 minutes in that game, and went on to win the Coppa Italia with Roma the following season – the campaign in which he made the most appearances of his career with over 50 – Tonetto was never capped by Italy again. He retired in 2010, having made just shy of 300 appearances in Serie A.
Leave a Reply