It isn’t the new stadium that Roma fans were hoping the club would be opening, but while the interminable wait for the Tor di Valle project to be approved continues, Roma’s Primavera today celebrated the reopening of the historic Stadio Tre Fontane by qualifying for the next round of the UEFA Youth League.
The stadium was originally built in 1960 for the 17th Olympic Games, held in Rome, and is best known by Giallorossi fans as the place where Roma’s first team trained during the 1970s and early 1980s. Nils Liedholm, the architect of the club’s second scudetto in 1982/83, coached the likes of Bruno Conti, Paulo Roberto Falcao and a young Agostino Di Bartolomei on that pitch, installing a 10 metre long wall for his players to practice their passing on.
That wall is still there, and has since been turned into a work of art with an image of Liedholm and one of the Baron’s famous phrases: “If we have the ball, then the other team can’t score.” Francesco Totti also scored his first ‘official’ goal on the ground, way back on 3rd November 1985 when he scored for Smit Trastevere’s Esordienti side.
Work to redevelop the complex began back in 2014, and the new stands can house 3,000 fans either side of a natural grass pitch with a state of the art drainage system. The capacity can be increased by moving a mobile stand and the hospitality areas into place, raising it to around 5,000.
The Tre Fontane is intended to be versatile, capable of hosting football, rugby, volleyball and other sports. It will be used on a regular basis by Roma’s Primavera and Allievi Nazionali sides to play their league matches, for UEFA Youth League games, by the Lega Nazionale Dilettanti for amateur football clubs and the Federazione Italiana Rugby for rugby matches.
“We’re proud that a team like Roma have chosen this place,” Ugo Pambianchi, who led the redevelopment project, says. “The Giallorossi management believed in our project and supported it, urging us on to do our best and giving us the means to bring it back to the top levels of professional sport. We’re very proud of this job.”
On 20th November Roma’s Giovanissimi Nazionali side christened the ground with its first win since reopening as they beat Ascoli’s Under 15s, but the first real match to be played in the new stadium was the Primavera’s Youth League game against Cork City. Before the game, coach Alberto De Rossi said, “Tre Fontane is a historic ground. My own career with Roma started there and it will be exciting to go back. We’ll try to honour the ground as best we can.” The Primavera certainly did honour it, winning 1-0 with a goal from Sidy Coly Keba to progress 4-1 on aggregate.
One day, perhaps Roma will be able to restore another ground from abandonment and decay. Rich in Giallorossi history and folklore, the neglected Campo Testaccio is just waiting to be brought back to life.