After 18 years at the club, Daniele De Rossi will play his last game for AS Roma this weekend in what is sure to be a highly emotional evening at the iconic Stadio Olimpico.
The truth of course, is that the 2006 World Cup winner and hometown boy done good has been done up like a kipper by the power brokers, who have thrown sentiment out of the window and De Rossi out on his arse.
Fan groups all around the world have been venting their anger at club president James Pallotta, but this is not the first time a club icon has been told he’s surplus to requirement, been given a commemorative carriage clock before being told to “do one”.
Here are five other footballing heavyweights and club legends, who just like De Rossi, have been abandoned by their employers.
Dennis Law – Manchester United
When Tommy Docherty breezed into Old Trafford in 1973, he was charged with the task of getting rid of three of United’s greatest ever players – The Holy Trinity. Bobby Charlton did the decent thing and retired whereas George Best did the next best thing and pissed off to Spain to shack up with Susan George. This left Dennis Law alone to face “The Doc’s” scalpel and in the summer of 73 when Docherty told the Scottish striker to go and enjoy a well-earned break, it would have been no surprise to Law to find that the minute he was out of the door, Docherty went public explaining that he would not be returning to M16 for the 73-74 campaign. The fact that Law himself saw the news on television whilst in a boozer in Aberdeen left a bitter taste and reportedly left him heartbroken. The “King of Old Trafford” decided to hang around Manchester by signing for City and of course helped send United down with that cheeky back-heeled goal in the Derby.
Bobby Moore – West Ham United
The very fact that the 1966 World Cup winning captain for England was never given a role within the Football Association is disgrace enough, but the fact that he was jettisoned from Upton Park with his powers on the wane in 1974 without so much as a thank-you is tantamount to an act of treason. Bobby’s final game for The Hammers after 16 years at the club came against Hereford in an FA Cup tie in January 74 before he was sold to Second Division Fulham for £25K and where, by some cruel twist of fate, he would play against his former club in the 1975 FA Cup Final. It’s kind of fitting that Moore did not play a part in England’s infamous 1-1 draw against Poland in 73 which meant the Three Lions wouldn’t be going to the World Cup in West Germany the following summer; at least Alf Ramsey did not want arguably England’s greatest ever player to be associated with one of the darkest days in its football history.
Emlyn Hughes – Liverpool
Former Liverpool boss Bob Paisley was always considered to be the quiet man of football, but even he had a ruthless streak that did for some of the most iconic players to pull on a red jersey. Emlyn “Crazy Horse” Hughes was one such player and just two years after lifting the European Cup for his club and being voted the Football Writers’ Player of the Year, in 1977, the lad from Barrow-in-Furness ended his 12 year association with the Merseyside giants after a disastrous performance in the 1979 FA Cup semi-final and the subsequent replay against Manchester United. Paisley, who once cited Hughes as the best centre-back in Europe, never picked him for the first-team ever again and the man who was Liverpool’s most capped player at the time, headed to the Black Country to join Wolves where he lifted the League Cup in his first season. His footballing achievements were eclipsed a few years later however, when he shot to fame by putting his arm around Princess Anne whilst being a team captain on A Question of Sport.
Francis Lee – Manchester City
He may have only been at Maine Road (note for glory hunting City fans; this is where the team used to play) for seven years but Francis “Franny” Lee was idolised by the fans in the Kippax, thanks to his unbelievable ability to cheat referees into awarding him a penalty when a defender wasn’t even in the same postcode. When City boss Joe Mercer paid Bolton Wanderers 60,000 for his services in 1967, he declared that Lee was “The final piece in the jigsaw” whereas when he got fed up with his reputation as a serial diver he considered him more as a square peg in a round hole. 249 appearances and 112 goals later, Lee was off to Derby County in 1974 and as luck would have it, got the chance to exact immediate revenge when he scored for The Rams on his debut against his former club in August of the same year. Lee later became a bog-roll magnate and bought Manchester City before his business went tits-up and his lasting legacy in football will be his sensational punch-up with Leeds United’s Norman Hunter, after both players were sent-off during a match at The Baseball Ground.
Charlie George – Arsenal
Charles Frederick George’s dream came true in 1968 when he made it into the first-team squad at Arsenal. Islington-born George went on to become the darling of The North Bank at Highbury culminating with scoring the winning goal in the 2-1 FA Cup Final win over Liverpool in 1971, which meant The Gunners became only the second club to do the double in the 20th century. Boss Bertie Mee however, regarded his mercurial attacking midfielder as a bit of a show pony and by the mid-70’s George’s off-field (and sometimes on-field) behaviour was becoming a cause for concern. Too many late nights in the flesh-pots of the West End and a catalogue of debilitating injuries made his sale inevitable and in 1975, Derby County decided to take a punt on the player to leave Gunners fans distraught. George’s legacy is such that Arsenal fans of a certain vintage will always put him in their greatest ever XI. It’s just a shame that the local boy made good never went onto to fulfil his undoubted potential in North London.