Blessed be Roberto Pruzzo
April 1, 1955, Crocefieschi (Genoa)
Roberto Pruzzo is born
A reserved character and a man of few words, Roberto Pruzzo is best described with his stats. Because the beauty of Roberto Pruzzo can be found right there on the score sheet. He was a goalscorer. A goal king. Put simply, Roberto Pruzzo meant goals for Roma – 106 of them in Serie A. Roberto Pruzzo is and will always remain our ‘Bomber’. Our No.9. Our centre forward. Our frontman. Our striker – the one who personifies that wonderful, inimitable Roma side of the ’80s.
Pruzzo was the man who scored the goal that saved us from relegation against Atalanta. Who scored in the European Cup final against Liverpool (and in the semis against Dundee United, and in the quarters against Dynamo Berlin, and in the first round against IFK Göteborg). Who scored at Genoa in the Scudetto decider. In the greatest derby (the one with the ‘Ti Amo’ banner). At San Siro against Inter and AC Milan. In Turin against Torino and Juventus, with an overhead kick in the last minute. In the Coppa Italia (20 times in 48 games), in the UEFA Cup (three in seven) and in the Cup Winners’ Cup (four in 13). He was the man who tried to change the match, change the world, change history against Liverpool on the day our European Cup final dream was dashed.
However, while the beauty of Roberto Pruzzo can be found on the score sheet, the beauty of his 90th-minute volley against Juve – after Odoacre Chierico had pulled a sombrero on Michel Platini – cannot. Nor does the score sheet reveal the beauty of that goal he scored on May 30, 1984.
Maybe that’s why the Roma fans in the Curva Sud sang “Blessed be Roberto Pruzzo”, as if to remind him of his worth. Understandably so given that the man who three times finished the season as topscorer was rarely called up to the Italy squad.
That is another reason why Roberto Pruzzo is ours and ours alone, even though he scored his first Serie A goal against us. And his last too. Fate adding the opening and closing lines to a career spent hitting the net for Roma, because that’s what the Curva Sud was baying for. Because they sang, “Give us a goal, give us a goal, come on Roberto give us a goal”.
A reserved character and a man of few words, Roberto Pruzzo once revealed another side to his beauty. The day he took off his shirt in a stadium for the first time and offered it to the Curva. They didn’t need his words. “Blessed be Roberto Pruzzo.”