Opinion

Roma’s Foreign Legion Through the Years

ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 06: A general view as players of AS Roma walk out onto the pitch as fans use smoke flares prior to kick off of the Serie A match between AS Roma and SS Lazio at Stadio Olimpico on November 06, 2022 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
RomaPress Staff
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Any football team that is looking to create a winning team needs to find the perfect balance between experience and youth. Exuberance and pragmatism. Grit and flair. It is also important that a team, or squad, is made up of different nationalities, not only to give value, something the domestic market can’t always provide, but also to deliver each of the aforementioned attributes. If Roma is to have a successful season, and the current football odds suggest that is still very much fifty fifty, then they will have to leverage every one of those values.

Roma have been particularly active in the foreign transfer market over the years and decades, largely with success. Here we briefly take our eye off the fight for Champions League football, and of course the current progress in the Europa League to see which countries have been the richest source of talent.

The Current Squad

Of the current 28 man squad, 13 are at least part Italian nationals, which is a little under fifty percent. Arguably the three most important players, Tammy Abraham, fellow striker Paulo Dybala and captain Pellegrini boast as many as four different nations on their passports. Behind them in terms of influence, Wijnaldum and Matic add another four between them.

The Nationalities Roma Have Used the Most

Overall, Roma have had players from 60 different nations. This compares with 52 for Lazio and 57 for AC Milan. Surprisingly, South America has the top two countries which have provided the most players, with Brazil running out first with 48 and their great rivals Argentina in second with 39 different players pulling on the Giallorossi strip. Spain, France and Sweden come next with 16, 16 and 13 players respectively. The next South American country on the list is Uruguay with 8.

Brazilian Players for Roma

Among the Brazilian contingent there is of course probably Falcão, one of the best players to have played for Roma. In his five year spell between 1980 and 1985, he played 152 times scoring 27 goals. His influence on the pitch, orchestrating play from the middle of the park was a sight to behold.

Interestingly however, legendary Brazilian defender Aldair Nascimento Dos Santos is the only non-Italian to make our top ten players of all-time list. After joining in 1990, the versatile centre back and sweeper played almost his entire professional career at Roma, becoming club captain, notching up 436 appearances, winning a league title and gaining his place in the hall of fame.

Gabriel Omar Batistuta of Roma celebrates after victory in the Lazio v Roma league match. Digital Image. Mandatory Credit: Grazia Neri/ALLSPORT

Argentinian Players for Roma

When it comes to goals, it is Argentina that the club have most benefited from. A total of 566 goals have come via the boots of Argentinians. That’s 163 more than Brazil can claim, despite Brazilians recording a total of 3764 appearances compared to Argentina’s 2349. As we shall see many of those were in the early to middle of the last century, but current forward Paolo Dybala is in good form currently, and you don’t have to go too far back to find the likes of Diego Perotti, Erik Lamella, Gabriel Batistuta, Abel Balbo and Claudio Caniggia, though the latter’s time ended in controversy of course.

Some of the goalscoring records for players a little bit further back in history really are incredible. Pedro Waldemar Manfredini scored 101 goals in 164 appearances between 1959 and 1965. Enrique Guaita scored 42 goals in 62 matches and Arturo Chini Luduena managed 57 in his 166 games.

The Best of the Rest

A look at the best 30 foreign players to have played for the club shows they have taken talents from every continent, and every major footballing nation on the planet. There are also some surprises amongst the list. Greece are eighth on the list for having provided the most players (412 games 21 goals), Bosnia-Herzegovina has contributed 462 matches and 149 goals. There have been as many Albanians as there have been Englishmen.

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