End of an era as 'Mr Roma' passes on

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It’s an end of an era in Rome following the passing of AS Roma president Franco Sensi.

The 82-year-old had been seriously ill for some time so it was a matter of not if but when.

The fact that his death occurred during the height of the holiday season in the capital saw thousands of Giallorossi streaming back from the nearby beaches and country retreats to pay their final respects.

The quintessential Roman, with the jowly face and gravely voice will be remembered as “Mr Roma.r”

Fans pay respects following death of "Mr Roma" 

A lifelong fan, he oversaw the club’s return to the top echelons of the game, both domestically and more recently on the European scene.

The property developer bought the ailing Lupi 15 years ago when the club was seemingly in terminal decline: unable to compete on or off the pitch with the cash-rich northerns, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter, or even city rivals Lazio who had Sergio Cragnotti bankrolling their charge up the table.

Astuteness and the capital’s love of a father-figure would more than compensate in the long run as would unearthing a fellow Romano in Francesco Totti.

“Francesco is the son I never had,” once claimed Sensi who leaves three daughters. From that moment there was never any fear of the capital’s greatest ever footballer wearing another club shirt. 

Sensi and Totti, the son he never had 

However, success cannot be built on romantic idealism alone and it took a hefty personal investment to bring Fabio Capello onboard, and then acquire the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Emerson, and Marcos Cafu.

Around 120billion lire in transfer fees, which is actually a lot of money, helped land the league title in 2001: only the third in the club’s history which sparked a two-week-long party more akin to Mardi gras and the Rio carnival rolled into one.

The little man’s pockets were not deep enough to sustain the momentum of that scudetto success but maybe a great legacy has been the re-launch of one of the best youth sectors in the game.

The promotion of local boys Daniele De Rossi and Alberto Aquilani to first-team regulars and current Italy internationals bear testimony to the Sensi passion for the club.

De Rossi (left) and Aquilani: Local boys done good 

He had withdrawn from public life over the last few years, leaving the club in the hands of his daughter Rosella and had to watch from afar as Luciano Spalletti’s side pushed Inter all the way in the league and lifted the last two Italian Cups.

Having already kept American billionaire George Soros at bay once, there is little chance of the club remaining in the hands of the Sensi family now the emperor is dead.

The capital will never know his like again.