Rome has often been the object of Daniele De Rossi’s romantic side. He has, time and again, demonstrated that he can think with his heart as well as his head.
He has played his entire career with Roma, a club that loves representing the city that he loves. He still lives close to the Tiber rather than moving nearer to the Giallrossi’s training ground in order to take in the air of the river every morning.
On Wednesday morning, De Rossi finished his training rather hurriedly and went off as if he had another important engagement. He went to Florence to attend the funeral of Pietro Lombardi, the former Italy kitman, who had passed away aged 92.
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He had earned the nickname ‘Spazzolino’ – toothbrush – because he cleaned players’ shoes brilliantly, and was on hand for the players needs during their 2006 World Cup triumph.
De Rossi did not play a huge amount during the tournament, though he converted a penalty in the final that helped Italy down France.
Spazzolino had endeared himself to many of the players in that squad. Francesco Totti posted on his blog after hearing of his death. De Rossi reacted silently, preferring to keep his thoughts to himself, and his relationship with the man private.
He left training in the morning and put his World Cup winner’s medal in his pocket before driving to Florence. There, he greeted his friend for the final time and put his most valuable possession into the coffin.
There was a poignant symbolism to the gesture. That the victory of Italy will go forward to eternity. Yet it might have just been De Rossi keeping a promise to a friend. Maybe he realises that memories are kept in the heart and the head, not in the objects we accrue.
It is a minimalist mantra that ‘the things you own end up owning you’. This will not be the case for Daniele De Rossi’s World Cup medal. It has finished its gleaming journey, and will rest forever with the man called Spazzolino.