Rome, June 2, 2003: it was Aldair Day at the Stadio Olimpico as the Brazilian defender – known as “Pluto” to Giallorossi fans – bid farewell to the club. It was an emotional night, as “Alda” went on a lap of honor to say goodbye to the fans and his team-mates after 13 years of service for the club. Then-president Franco Sensi decided to honor him by retiring the number 6 shirt, a jersey he'd worn with style for years. Since then no one has had the privilege of donning it. Last Saturday, ten years on, the holder himself expressed his wish via an interview with Roma Channel saying, “It would be great to see the Roma number 6 back on the field, especially for youngsters who have never seen it.”
Kevin Strootman will be the man who inherits it, the club's new signing in midfield. But the Dutchman was far from a random choice. The “oranje” number 6 goes by the name of Mark van Bommel. A powerful, energetic midfielder, and it's no coincidence Strootman has been compared to him in terms of his playing style, a few days after the former Barcelona man decided to hang up his boots.
Mehdi Benatia, another new face for 2013/14, has chosen 17, a number which is close to his heart, despite the superstitious connotations it has in Italy. “My birthday's April 17 and my father's is January 17. And this was a lucky number for me in Udine.” Damiano Tommasi wore 17 for Roma between 1996 and 2006. He put in a decade of tireless running in the middle, hard work, sweat and devotion, along with trophies: a Scudetto (2001) and a Super Cup (2001).
Alessandro Florenzi, the vibrant young midfielder from Aprilia, has also made an interesting selection. He will wear 24 this season. He chose his number based on the relationship with his girlfriend: “I got together with her on the 24th and it's always brought me luck. I wore it at Crotone, then last season – given that it was Stekelenburg's – I took 48 because that was 24 times two.” It'll be great to see a local lad and Roma fan with the shirt that caused so much pain to Lazio fans over the years: Marco Delvecchio wore 24 – the all-time top scorer in the Rome derby (along with Da Costa and Totti) – from 1995 to 2005.