Frank Isola: Roma's Daniele De Rossi can be added to the list of smart athletes to remain with one club

De Rossi has a chance to build a lasting legacy at Roma similar to NBA veterans Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant, who have never switched teams.
Maybe someone near and dear to Daniele De Rossi, perhaps a relative or a Roma teammate, smacked a little common sense into him with the same force that the Italian international once used when he nearly decapitated Brian McBride at the 2006 World Cup.

That may have done the trick.

If not common sense, maybe it was simply dollars and cents that ultimately convinced De Rossi to make the smart play and sign a long-term contract to remain with AS Roma, the only club he's ever known.

Sometimes you don't know how good you have it until you leave one club for another. Just ask Fernando Torres. Change isn't always a good thing even if it's Manchester City and Chelsea knocking at your door with a plane ticket to the Premier League in one hand and a lucrative contract in the other.

For months, De Rossi had been linked to a move to England. But as they say, when in Rome... stay. It is home for De Rossi about as much as AC Milan was and is home for Paolo Maldini.

"What drives me to stay here, to do my job with so much passion is this team, this city and its people," said  De Rossi, who has played 249 matches and counting with Roma. "What I desire is here."

With the endless player movement in every major sport, it's nice to occasionally have a player remain with one club. The days leading up to last week's Super Bowl were dominated by reports regarding the uncertain future of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. In this case, Manning would prefer to remain with the team that drafted him but Colts ownership seems ready to move on from the future Hall of Famer.

Two years ago, the city of Cleveland begged LeBron James not to leave but the Ohio native picked Miami Beach over establishing an NBA legacy in his hometown.

That's one thing that makes NBA players Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant so unique. Duncan toyed with the idea of leaving the San Antonio Spurs, but he stayed and will be remembered as the face of the franchise and for winning multiple championships. Kobe once thought about leaving for the rival Los Angeles Clippers, but on Monday he reiterated that he will retire in the Lakers' purple and gold, the only colors he's ever worn in a game.


De Rossi now has the same opportunity. The 28-year-old midfielder signed a five-year deal which will cover the prime years of his career.

"He is a top-level player and I'm still expecting a lot from him in the future," says Roma coach Luis Enrique.

The Roma boss knows the club is fortunate to have retained its best player because if De Rossi truly wanted to test the waters of the Barclay's Premier League it was now or never. And he clearly wrestled with that decision.

"Last year I saw the love from the fans towards me diminish," De Rossi said. "And the fact that some of them questioned my strength as a player made me think of seeking alternatives."

There's nothing wrong having options and wanting to feel loved. And truth be told, De Rossi has a better chance at winning trophies, especially a Champions League title, with Man City and Chelsea.

"Those things fascinated me and I did speak to other clubs," De Rossi added. "I was very tempted to see if I had the strength to play elsewhere.

"But in the end I made a choice not just of the heart but of the head. I have not remained here just to be a tourist in Rome and see the Coliseum. I believe a lot in this new project."

Who knows, maybe De Rossi and Roma defy the odds and win a major trophy. It's not impossible. And if that happens just think of how much more it will mean to the player, the city and the sport.