Goalkeepers who became Roma’s first choice after originally being a backup

Mile Svilar has overtaken Rui Patricio in the Roma pecking order in goal and his next task is to try and prove he deserves the club’s continuing faith into next season.

Svilar spent the first 18 months or so of his Roma career as a deputy to Patricio, but one of Daniele De Rossi’s first major decisions as head coach has been to make the Serbian his preferred option in goal over the declining Portuguese.

The starting spot seems to be Svilar’s for the rest of the season, but what next? Will Roma sign a new main goalkeeper as they always planned for after Patricio’s contract expires, or is the answer already at their disposal?

Only time will tell, but here are some players Svilar could follow in the footsteps of if Roma stick with him as their starter next season.

The quintet below all came to Roma as backup options but eventually enjoyed a season (or multiple) where they were the goalkeeper with the most appearances for the team.

Players like Antonio Mirante, who ended a particular season as the main starter but never had a season where they played the majority of games, are not included. Will Svilar be one of them, or more like one of the following?

Alisson Becker

While Alisson Becker was a full Brazil international by the time Roma signed him in 2016, it is hard to think of anyone else who has become so dominant in the starting lineup after a debut season spent mainly on the bench.

Initially supporting Wojciech Szczesny but beginning to question his long-term future at the club, Alisson gratefully got the nod to be Roma’s number one after the Poland international went to Juventus in 2017. Can you believe at the time there were debates about whether it should be Alisson or Lukasz Skorupski as the next number one? Pretty quickly, Roma realised just how deserving of the role Alisson was.

The season he produced in 2017-18 was one of the best by any individual, including outfield players, in recent memory at Roma. Alisson played a huge part in helping Eusebio Di Francesco’s side to the Champions League semi-finals and a top-four finish (something they are yet to repeat since his sale).

But Alisson’s form was no flash in the pan; he earned an expensive move to Liverpool, briefly becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in history, after just one season as Roma’s first-choice keeper, and went on to win several honours with the Premier League side, getting the wider attention he always deserved.

Julio Sergio

Julio Sergio’s rise to the Roma starting spot was one of the most hard-fought ever, as he wasn’t even second choice when he arrived in 2006.

A year later, Luciano Spalletti famously described him as the best third-choice goalkeeper in the world, but Sergio had to wait until his fourth season with Roma to finally make his debut, when Doni was injured and there were doubts about Artur’s form.

Sergio took his chance and, after Spalletti’s long-term praise, earned the trust of Claudio Ranieri too, enough to end the first season in which he made any appearances for Roma (2009-10) with more appearances than his two compatriots put together.

The two highlights of Sergio’s spell in the Roma goal were a penalty save in a derby, and when he stayed on despite being injured when Ranieri had used all his subs in a game against Brescia.

After his long-awaited breakthrough season, Sergio – in his thirties by this stage – spent one more season with Roma, edging Doni for gametime (by a smaller margin this time) once again.

Ivan Pelizzoli

The goalkeeper position was regarded as one of the weaker areas of Roma’s last Scudetto winning squad in 2001. That summer, they went on to buy Ivan Pelizzoli from Atalanta.

However, Francesco Antonioli remained the preferred choice for Fabio Capello at first, limiting the newcomer to five Serie A appearances in his debut season.

The following year, though, the pair of Italians shared duties in goal, Antonioli making 27 appearances in all competitions and Pelizzoli 28 (third-choice Carlo Zotti played once).

Antonioli left Roma for Sampdoria in 2003, but Roma didn’t buy any new keeper, instead promoting Pelizzoli to the full-time first-choice berth. He only conceded 16 goals in his 34 appearances in 2003-04.

Pelizzoli stayed for one final season, the chaotic 2004-05 campaign, this time rotating with academy graduate Gianluca Curci but still earning the slightly better proportion of appearances.

Franco Tancredi

Although Franco Tancredi ended up as the goalkeeper with the most appearances for Roma, he had to be patient to really get his record-breaking tally going.

When Tancredi joined from Serie B side Rimini in 1977, at the age of 22, Roma still had Paolo Conti as their main goalkeeper.

Tancredi, who had previously spent a couple of years as a backup for Milan, had to wait until his second season with Roma to make his Serie A debut. The tide started to turn, though, in Conti’s final season, 1979-80.

Beyond then, Tancredi became Roma’s number one. He would be a figurehead for the new era under Nils Liedholm, which would become the club’s best period of sustained success.

After Conti’s departure, Tancredi was ever-present in Serie A for the next eight seasons, one of which Roma became champions in.

Fabio Cudicini

By the end of his career, Fabio Cudicini would be a European Cup winner with Milan, but before then, he enjoyed an eight-year spell with Roma.

After coming through the Udinese system, Cudicini joined Roma in 1958. However, he only played twice in the league during his debut season, when Luciano Panetti played the majority of games in goal.

The hierarchy was the same for the following season, but was overturned in Cudicini’s third season, which resulted in Roma winning the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Cudicini played in both legs of the final against Birmingham City.

Panetti left that summer (1961) and Cudicini enjoyed another five seasons as Roma’s most regular keeper before Brescia took him away in 1966, for a single season until his swansong with Milan.

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