Roma’s ten most iconic captains

Roma have had their fair share of influential leaders over the years.

It’s 20 years to the day since Francesco Totti was named as Roma captain, and while the term ‘Capitano’ has become synonymous with him, he wasn’t the only legend who acted as a club symbol. A total of 23 players have held the title of Roma club captain across their 91-year existence, with those reigns lasting anywhere between two months and 19 seasons.

Here’s a countdown of the 10 most iconic captains in Roma’s history.

10. Arcadio Venturi (1953-1957)

A loyal player who stayed with Roma during their sole season in Serie B, Venturi helped the side win promotion straight back to the top flight. In appreciation of his commitment to the club, he was awarded the captaincy at the end of the following season. His spell as captain ended in 1957, when he reluctantly moved to Inter to help Roma raise funds.

9. Sergio Santarini (1976-1980)

Only five players have played more games for Roma than defender Santarini. The sweeper represented the club across three decades, earning the captaincy towards the end of his 13-year stint with the club. In his final year as captain, he lifted Roma’s third Coppa Italia. Such was his longevity at the club, he had been involved in the previous two Coppa wins as well.

8. Guido Masetti (1939-1943)

One of the best goalkeepers to have played for Roma, two-time World Cup winner Masetti spent four seasons as captain of the club. During that time, he became the first Roma player to lift the Serie A trophy when Roma won the title in 1942, a feat that only two men have repeated since. Masetti had a major influence on the title-winning campaign, with Roma conceding fewer goals than any other team in the division.

7. Fulvio Bernardini (1929-1939)

Roma’s second ever captain, Bernardini’s contribution to the club was so great that the training ground was later named after him, despite his past association with rivals Lazio. Immediately identified as a leader upon his 1928 arrival at the club, he grew into his role as captain – which he took permanently in 1934 when Attilio Ferraris left – and became part of the club fabric. The midfielder later managed the Giallorossi as well.

6. Giacomo Losi (1959-1968)

Captain for nine seasons, which makes him the joint-third longest serving skipper in the club’s history, defender Losi held Roma’s appearance record for nearly four decades, until he was overtaken by Totti. Partway through his tenure as captain, Losi was given the nickname of the ‘Heart of Rome’ in recognition of his contributions to the club and the sporting passion he embodied. Losi became the first Roma player to lift the Coppa Italia when they won the competition in 1964.

5. Giuseppe Giannini (1987-1996)

Like Losi, Giannini wore the captain’s armband for nine seasons, taking over from Milan-bound Carlo Ancelotti. Born and raised in Rome, Giannini was the epitome of what it means to captain La Magica, inspiring a young Totti as well as countless other Romanisti. Just 23 when he inherited the armband, Giannini had big shoes to fill, but he took the responsibility in his stride, inspiring the team to the 1991 Coppa Italia and becoming one of the club’s best players of all time.

4. Attilio Ferraris (1927-1934)

The first man to be named Roma’s captain, Ferraris was another Roman citizen who led the club with distinction. A leader who unified a brand new group of players who had been playing for different clubs, Ferraris wrote his name in history by taking the armband upon the club’s foundation. He was the outright captain for the first two years of the club’s history, before sharing the role with new acquisition Bernardini, a sign of his nobility and selflessness. In total, Ferraris made over 200 appearances for the Giallorossi.

3. Daniele De Rossi (2017-2019)

While he is only in his second season as official Roma captain, De Rossi has been a leader for much longer. Known for much of his career as ‘Capitano Futuro’, it was always clear that he had the necessary passion and commitment to captain the club. The first person turned to in the absence of Totti, De Rossi’s never-say-die attitude has helped the club through thick and thin. When Totti missed the 2008 Coppa Italia final, it was De Rossi who led the side out and eventually lifted the trophy after a 2-1 win over Inter. A one-club man, De Rossi is the beating heart of the current Roma side.

2. Agostino Di Bartolomei (1980-1984)

Nils Liedholm’s trusted captain during the glory days of the early 80s, Di Bartolomei led by example. Although a shy man off the pitch, he let his football do the talking on it, being the driving force behind Roma’s success. Under his leadership, Roma won their second Scudetto, the Coppa Italia twice and reached the European Cup final for the only time in their history. Although Roma lost that game, Di Bartolomei was an outstanding candidate for man of the match, in what turned out to be his last game for the club. In his wake, he left a legacy that highlighted the value of noble leadership.

1. Francesco Totti (1998-2017)

Rome-born, Rome-raised, Roma fan. Francesco Totti was the perfect candidate to represent Roma. When Aldair vacated the captaincy after less than three months in the role, Totti was a clear choice to step into his shoes, despite his tender age of 22. Roma never looked back, and he became the longest-serving captain the club has ever had. Totti’s Roma career ended with five trophies, all of which came during his captaincy. So great was the length of his captaincy, that during the same time frame, Juventus and Milan each went through three captains, with Totti outlasting Alessandro Del Piero and Paolo Maldini. Meanwhile, Inter had five captains, and Lazio had 13. All the while, Totti was forging his position as an eternal icon of Roma. And despite all the great leaders that preceded him, it’s no wonder the fans sang ‘C’è solo un Capitano’ in his honour.

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