Roma’s macabre injury curse strikes again: from Emerson to Luca Pellegrini

Pagine Romaniste (Alessio Nardo) The umpteenth “buona fortuna”, another “good luck and come back stronger than before” to add to the list. It’s becoming an almost macabre collection. Sad, gloomy, irritating and tiresome. This time it’s Luca Pellegrini, born in 1999, perhaps the most promising member of Alberto De Rossi’s Primavera side. A young left back with great stamina and quality. Who also has great personality. His dreams of what might have been this summer were shattered during a tedious and irritable friendly against the Czech side FC Slovacko. A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. A prognosis that has become ominously habitual.

Luca Pellegrini

Luca might have been in the starting XI in America: coach Di Francesco, by his own admission, would have picked him for the game on the 19th against Paris Saint-Germain (who aren’t, with all due respect, Pinzolo). This is both due to the lack of alternatives, given that Roma currently don’t have another left back, and due to the technical ability of the young man managed by Mino Raiola. But, instead, he now faces 6 months out. The suffering, the slow recovery, the endless waiting. And it’s up to us to ask why, once again, it’s happened to one of our players.

It must be said that Pallotta and his partners, whose flaws have meant they don’t have the unconditional backing of Romanisti, haven’t been particularly lucky either. While expert fitness trainers and coaches have not always been used, there’s always been an element of bad luck as well. In 6 years of American ownership, Pellegrini is the 10th player who has seen his knee ruined. It started in November 2011 with Nicolas Burdisso, who got injured while on international duty, ruling him out until the following summer and depriving Luis Enrique of an indispensable part of a decidedly shaky defence. Then, in 2014, in the fiery San Paolo, Strootman‘s left knee exploded (leading to seemingly endless suffering that only finished after 2 years and 3 operations, when he was finally able to return to action with the Primavera in 2016).

Similar injuries struck the youngsters CapradossiPonce and Nura (the latter was also affected by cardiac problems that had to be dealt with very delicately). The last 12 months has been a disaster: Rudiger suffered the same injury (while on international duty with Germany before Euro 2016), as did Mario Rui (during Roma’s pre-season tour of America), Florenzi (first in the game against Sassuolo last October, before it happened again in February) and Emerson Palmieri (whose misfortune came on the final day of the season against Genoa). Now, it’s poor Pellegrini. Another full back. The umpteenth full back who has been ruled out by this wretched curse. And he will begin his recovery with a string of messages wishing him all the best.

But the curse of serious injuries is nothing new. There have been countless others over the last 17 years: the most famous, obviously, is Francesco Totti‘s, which came on 19th February 2006 and seemingly ended our captain’s dreams of playing in the World Cup. His left ankle twisted unnaturally, his fibula broke, and everyone feared the worst. But then Totti returned in record time and lifted the World Cup to the sky, because clearly fate had already decided that’s how it should be. Looking further back, how can you forget the double cruciate injuries of the summer of 2000: both Emerson (who was in tears in the stands as the team were officially presented at the Olimpico) and the current Giallorossi coach Eusebio Di Francesco (who fell in battle, in Slovenia, during the UEFA Cup match against Nova Gorica) were ruled out.

The summer is the most ill-fated of seasons for our players. Think back to 7th August, 2001, when Ivorian defender Saliou Lassissi was seriously injured during the friendly against Boca Juniors (compound fracture of the tibia and fibula) and the horrendous knee injury sustained in 2004 by Damiano Tommasi, the victim of a shocking tackle by Stoke City defender Taggart. For the record, Lassissi was never the same player again while it was a year and a half before Tommasi took to the pitch again. And there are still more infamous injuries. Think of Castan, who was struck by a cavernoma in his brain, and the devastating sports hernia that forced Federico Balzaretti to hang up his boots for the last time. There are other players who arrived in Rome who were already injured or coming off sustained periods of inactivity: Shabani NondaGilberto MartinezMauro EspositoDodoThomas Vermaelen. These players never fully got over their injuries. Why not top it off by finally fulfilling the dream of signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic? We’re just putting it out there. Things can’t go much worse than they have already.

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