Return to paradise

April 25, 1984, Rome – Stadio Olimpico
Roma 3-0 Dundee United
European Cup, semi-final second leg

For a whole generation of fans, Roma v Dundee United of April 25, 1984 is the most memorable match in Giallorossi history. It certainly saw some of the best support, with the stadium packed to the rafters and an atmosphere that still sends a shiver down the spine today.

It was a vitally important match. The second leg of the European Cup semi-final. The city was filled with anticipation – waiting, hoping, counting down the seconds from the first leg, which had seen Roma go down 2-0 in Scotland. And the prize was oh so precious – the final was to be played in Rome itself of May 30.

But first, we had a date with destiny and Dundee United. It was a tough task, especially after the 2-0 defeat at Tannadice Park, which meant Roma were obliged to mount a comeback without conceding again. To make matters worse, the Giallorossi were finding goals hard to come by and another goal from the Scots would surely put the final beyond reach.

The city of Rome responded by turning up in their droves, determined to carry their heroes through to the biggest stage. In the stands the fans held up three fingers as if to pre-empt the necessary scoreline, they waved flags, chanted Paulo Roberto Falcao’s name: “Falcao! Falcao! Falcao!” The deadly Brazilian was unable to play in the first leg, but his name now boomed around the stadium, as if the Stadio Olimpico were his temple and the thousands inside it his disciples.

The spectacle on the field was even more impressive. Bruno Conti’s disallowed goal was rendered irrelevant after Roberto Pruzzo stepped up with a brace. Never before had Pruzzo been so clinical, so great, so vital to the Roma cause.

It was an Agostino Di Bartolomei penalty that sealed it. And how fitting it was that our great captain was the man to carry us through to the grand final. The final whistle sparked unbridled celebrations around the stadium, the memories of which all Roma fans will carry inside them forever.