On Sunday evening, AS Roma president Franco Sensi died in hospital from respiratory problems, aged 82. He had been suffering health problems for some time, and increasingly last season was too unwell to attend games; he spent the last weeks of his life in the Gemelli hospital, only a stone's throw from the Stadio Olimpico. His daughter Rosella, who has been managing director for some years (and the only woman to hold such a role in Italy), is thought to be preparing to assume his role as President (well, Chairman I guess we'd say).
The vigil took place yesterday at the Campidoglio, with the coffin draped in a giallorosso flag, while hundreds of friends and fans queued to pay their respects. His funeral was held today in Rome, attended by representatives of most of the country's football teams including Fiorentina & Lazio managers Cesare Prandelli and Delio Rossi, and Inter and Juve bosses Massimo Moratti and Giovanni Cobolli Gigli. Milan director Adriano Galliano was whistled by fans, but most of the attendees including Carlo Mazzone, Sabrina Ferilli, Luca Pancalli (representing CONI) and FIGC president Giancarlo Abete, were well received.
The coffin was carried by Spalletti, Totti, Doni, Baptista, Panucci and Okaka: manager, captain, old and new, veteran and youngster. Montella read out a short piece on behalf of the players. Incidentally, kudos to Baptista for standing up for this having only arrived last week. Lord knows how he must be feeling, but I respect his gesture. Sensi was then buried at the Verano cemetery, a beautiful expanse of tree-filled tranquil space where he joins his father, designer of Roma's first historic stadium, the Campo Testaccio.
Thousands of fans had gathered outside the church from early this morning: they saluted their president one last time with a chorus of "Roma Roma Roma" and a number of chants in his honour. I desperately wish I had been there. Of course I never knew him, but this news has greatly saddened me. His passing masks the end, for us, of a certain style of family-run club (or at least the perception thereof). Though never uncritically adored, he was loved by Roma fans and respected by almost everyone. It's the end of an era, and I feel sad to have been in England and missed this chance to say goodbye: I never knew Roma without Franco Sensi in charge. I hope we do him proud this season. Addio Presidente.