AS Roma Match Program (F.Viola) Roma have only ever played Villarreal once before, a two-legged affair in the last 16 of the 2003/04 UEFA Cup. The Spanish side have only visited the Olimpico once as well, and when they did there was a certain Giallorossi player on the pitch who still refers to Roma as “us”. Francisco Govinho Lima, born in 1971, wore the Giallorosso shirt for 3 seasons, making 130 appearances for the club.
What do you remember about that game?
I remember that we lost, that we got knocked out [Roma won 2-1 but lost 3-2 on aggregate, ed.], but luckily this time it was completely different.
Were you able to watch the first leg?
They were very strong and, just like when I played, we expected a very difficult game. Roma were perfect though, they were confident in their own ability on the pitch and played their own game until the first goal, then everything became much easier. Luckily this Roma team brought an important victory home.
The result puts the second leg in a different light…
Yes, but you must never drop your guard. They’re a very strong team but of course the [first leg] result makes it easier for us.
What do you think was the best thing about Roma?
The result is the most important thing. Roma played as you always should away from home, aiming not to concede.
What are your thoughts about Spalletti?
We all know that he’s a great guy, as a coach he’s perfect. He’s a master. He’s done well at every team he’s been at. Even in Russia everyone speaks highly of him, I used to play there and still talk to people there and they all think a lot of him.
Is there one player you’ve been particularly impressed with?
Totti is and will always be our great captain. De Rossi provides balance to the rest of the team. Of the new players, Nainggolan is wonderful and Emerson is really starting to make a difference on the left hand side.
Roma currently have a game every few days, fighting on 3 fronts – is the physical or the mental aspect harder to cope with?
It’s definitely hard when you have to go back out onto the pitch without much of a break because there isn’t much time to recover. But the players are all professionals, they’re used to it. It might seem paradoxical but I found the more I played, the better condition I was in.
What sort of game are you expecting on Thursday evening?
They won’t give up easily, but after such a comprehensive loss I don’t expect they’ll believe they can dominate the game.
What’s your best memory of your time at Roma?
The games against Lazio. I couldn’t wait to play the derby every year.
Not winning the title. It was within our grasp in 2002 but we messed up twice – against Venezia and then the game after. It was a lost opportunity, a real shame.
What made Capello into a winning coach?
He was the best coach I ever had. He knew how to manage a group in any situation, he talked to us. He was a tough coach and a great motivator.
How far can this Roma side go?
They have a difficult game on Sunday in Milan against Inter. But Roma can do well. I only want good things for my Roma!
Before we go, what are you doing in Italy now?
Last year I did my coaching course at Coverciano, and now I’m in Otranto down in Puglia. I’m playing a bit and also doing some coaching. It’s a good experience which also allows me to follow the team I hold close to my heart, the team that has given me so much – Roma.