Roma are renowned for having one of the most passionate fanbases in the world – and it comes to the fore when they sign high-profile players.
It has become almost obligatory for fans to gather at airports to welcome new signings, but in some cases, Romanisti have taken things to another level.
Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire looks back at some examples of when Roma and their supporters went the extra mile to greet new arrivals.
Needing a striker all summer long in 2023, many Roma fans would have named Romelu Lukaku as a dream target – but even the most optimistic doubted it could become a reality due to the financial implications.
When Roma found a way to make his arrival on loan from Chelsea feasible, then, there was a great sense of anticipation to see the former Scudetto winner actually arrive.
Lukaku’s flight to Rome was tracked by more than 47,000 people on FlightRadar. When it touched down at Ciampino, around 5,000 fans were waiting to get a glimpse of Roma’s new star striker.
Compare that to a few days earlier, when another striker in the shape of Sardar Azmoun had arrived to a crowd of about 20 people, and it was clear just how big a deal bringing Lukaku in was.
While being driven away from the airport, a video showed an awestruck Lukaku expressing ‘wow’ as fans banged at the window – and he charmingly greeted them back.
Lukaku would then be introduced to the Stadio Olimpico at Roma’s subsequent home match against AC Milan.
A year before Lukaku, Roma had also completed another signing from the category of being beyond their wildest dreams when Paulo Dybala arrived on a free transfer from Juventus.
There was no similar airport story for Dybala, because at the time he joined the club, Roma were in Portugal on a pre-season training camp. But the Argentina ace got the reception he deserved when back in Italy.
To present Dybala, Roma took him to the FENDI headquarters, unveiling him to a crowd of more than 10,000 people. Meanwhile, livestreams of the event online clocked up several millions of views.
Moved by the sense of belonging, Dybala did his utmost to give back to the fans in the following season, which he ended as Roma’s top scorer.
When Roma signed a two-time Premier League winner, arriving on the back of 72 goals for Manchester City, in 2015, there was much enthusiasm that Edin Dzeko could take them to the next level.
After consecutive second-place finishes in Serie A, but with no player scoring double figures of league goals in the season that had just gone, the addition of Dzeko to Rudi Garcia’s squad generated a belief that Roma could topple Juventus.
As such, thousands of fans gathered at Fiumicino airport to welcome the striker, with some chants spreading about winning the Scudetto. Unfortunately, he could not repay their faith in his debut season due to a disappointing goal drought.
The initial belief in him turned out to be justified, though, as he eventually climbed to third on the club’s all-time scoring chart after a spell that included the highest-scoring single season by a Roma player ever witnessed, at the second time of asking.
Stadio Flaminio was Roma’s home ground in the 1989-90 season while the Olimpico was being renovated for the World Cup. A couple of decades later, the club held another event there: the presentation of Adriano.
Previously a two-time Scudetto winner with Inter and someone who had finished in the top 10 of the Ballon D’Or rankings twice, Adriano attracted 5,000 Roma fans to his presentation event on a 35°C day in the summer of 2010.
Sadly, Adriano – who had his demons away from the pitch, largely stemming from the death of his father six years earlier – failed to score from eight appearances for Roma and he would be released after just seven months.
After breaking their transfer record to sign the internationally renowned Gabriel Batistuta in 2000, Roma held an event at the Olimpico to unveil him.
The Curva Sud was rammed full with 15,000 fans. In an interview, Batistuta would declare that he “chose Roma because they think big” – which must have been evident that day.
There would be even bigger and more purposeful celebrations at the Olimpico by the end of the season, as Roma won the Scudetto thanks in no small part to Batistuta’s goalscoring haul.
Paulo Roberto Falcao
To say Roma originally wanted Zico instead of Paulo Roberto Falcao, the reception given to their plan B Brazilian midfield signing was euphoric. In August 1980, he touched down at Fiumicino, to be greeted by a crowd estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000 strong.
Apparently asking “but have these people ever seen me play?” while being showered with scarves and gifts, Falcao was taken aback by the reception he was given.
It had been eight years since a foreign player had last represented Roma due to restrictions imposed by Serie A. Naturally, then, there would be an almost mystical feel to seeing someone from distant lands come to grace the club with their presence.
Three years later, Il Divino was lifting the Scudetto after being an integral part of Nils Liedholm’s title-winning squad. To this day, Falcao is regarded by many as Roma’s greatest ever foreign player.
Not bad for a plan B.
As the man who scored the winner for Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup against Brazil at the Maracana, Alcides Ghiggia was no stranger to making an impression on a big crowd.
When Roma brought him to Europe in 1953, it was a huge deal and sparked pandemonium at the meeting in which club president Renato Sacerdoti confirmed it. They were getting one of the best players in the world at the time.
Ghiggia landed at Fiumicino on 3rd June and his journey to the car picking him up would be accompanied by a legion of supporters.
To commemorate his arrival, Roma organised a friendly with Charlton Athletic in which they could present Ghiggia at the Olimpico to a crowd of 55,000 people. Such was the excitement, the takings from that match alone accounted for almost half of the transfer fee Roma had just spent to sign him.