Daniele De Rossi started a new journey at Roma on Tuesday, taking over the club after Jose Mourinho was abruptly fired.
The former Italy midfielder, who spent practically his entire playing career at Roma, signed a contract with the Serie A side “until 30 June 2024” hours after Mourinho’s dismissal.
“I know no other way but dedication, daily sacrifices, and giving everything I have in order to face the challenges that await us from now until the end of the season,” he said in a statement.
“The thrill of being able to sit on our bench is unparalleled. “Everyone understands what Roma means to me.”
Mourinho departed Roma’s Trigoria training base on Tuesday afternoon, after a string of poor performances that have put the capital club well behind the pace in the Italian top flight this season.
Mourinho was greeted by a swarm of media and a few fans as he was taken out of the stadium, saying “thank you for these two years” to supporters who screamed his name.
De Rossi is regarded as a local hero by Roma supporters, having played in some of the club’s finest teams over the previous two decades with fellow star Francesco Totti.
The 40-year-old, who grew up in a rough and ready coastal district of Rome, spent over two decades with Roma, winning over supporters who recognized one of their own on the field in his passionate style of play.
He won two Italian Cups and the 2007 Italian Super Cup before retiring from Boca Juniors in early 2020, having spent less than a season in Argentina.
It’s a big assignment for someone with little coaching experience, and his lone employment at SPAL lasted just four months last season.
He was fired in February of last year, after SPAL’s relegation to the third-tier Serie C.
Mourinho, who has been connected with a post in Saudi Arabia, departed Roma after an emotional two-and-a-half years, during which he won the Europa Conference League in 2022, breaking a 14-year title drought.
Mourinho shown the door.
His contract was set to expire in June, and despite his frequent statements that he wished to continue, discussions about extending his term never materialised.
Rumours of his leaving spread after Roma was eliminated from the Italian Cup by local rivals Lazio, followed by a humiliating 3-1 loss at AC Milan on Sunday, which dropped them to ninth place in Serie A, five points below the Champions League spots.
The 60-year-old Portuguese was a surprise appointment in 2021, with Roma’s news of his arrival as Paulo Fonseca’s successor coming practically out of nowhere.
He quickly became a fan favorite, with his picture appearing on walls across Rome as fans hoped for success under one of football’s best ever managers.
And in his first season, he led Roma to the first Conference League title, which moved Mourinho to tears on the field and elevated him to nearly God-like status among one of Europe’s most passionate and success-starved fan groups.
He then came within a penalty shootout of winning back-to-back European championships with Roma, but fell short against Sevilla in last season’s Europa League.
That result angered Mourinho and his followers, who assaulted referee Anthony Taylor with chairs at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt airport in protest of what they saw as poor judgments that lost their club the trophy.
However, the chemistry between Mourinho and the supporters started to wane this season, with bad results and performances caused in part by a slew of injuries and failed summer acquisitions.
Under Mourinho’s leadership, Roma have failed to qualify for the lucrative Champions League, posing a significant challenge for a club working under Financial Fair Play rules and struggling to manage its budget.