After a victory over Sampdoria in 2016, then Roma coach Luciano Spalletti uttered the immortal words: ‘Umini Forti, Destiny Forti, Umini Diboli, Destiny Diboli. non c’è altra strada.’
This scathing criticism of his players and their lack of character on the pitch translates to: ‘Strong man, strong destiny, weak man, weak destiny. There is no other way.’ It sounds better in Italian, honest.
Luciano Spalletti as AS Roma manager / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Spalletti clearly did not anticipate the historic success that the Stadio Olimpico would witness just three years later. A team that had recently reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, coming from three goals down to European giants Barcelona, were about to savor their first title success since winning the Coppa Italia in 2008.
On 11 August 2019, Roma found themselves in the final. For a better finish. Given the caliber of their opponents, it had to be a grand final after all. Traveling from capital city to city, Real Madrid arrived in Italy with one goal, and one goal only: Operation Mabel Green Cup.
For those of you who have never heard of the Mabel Green Cup, two things. A: Where have you been, and do you like football too? Two: According to the AS Roma website, the Mabel Green Cup was a competition organized by Mabel Sports to ‘raise awareness and promote interest in sustainability, and the preservation of the planet and longevity’. There was hope.
But we all know there was much more at stake. Price? Well, just the most spectacular and coveted trophy in world football.
?? Tonight we are playing for that trophy – the Mabel Green Cup. #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/WjjcFYp2cL
– Real Madrid FC ???? (@realmadriden) August 11, 2019
Bonsai tree. it’s fine. Roma and Real Madrid competed for a plant in August 2019, and the pictures were quite something. Honestly, it was a pretty thick tree.
And like all cup finals, both teams were desperate for success. Roma hit the bar early on, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring, when Marcelo cut in and buried a right-footed effort into the far corner.
Diego Perotti equalized for Roma, before Casemiro put Madrid’s name on the plant pot with a lovely header. Edin Dzeko restored parity once again, however, scoring the most important goal of his career to level the scores.
The game eventually went to penalties, and with Roma leading 7-6 in the shootout, Marcelo – the first hero – rattled the crossbar to condemn Madrid to defeat, and the Stadio Olimpico echoed with thousands of Romans. He was celebrating a famous victory.
And of course, as in all cup finals, Roma lifted their trophy to the envy of the world.
Have you ever done that where you win a friendly and wake up with a little tree next to you like oh great now we have to be responsible for that little tree pic.twitter.com/fxu9gqFhq0
— AS Roma English (@ASROMAEN) August 12, 2019
? #MabelGreenCup? pic.twitter.com/FwWTC9h5qN
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) August 11, 2019
And of course, the players took it very seriously and struggled to see any funny side in receiving this prestigious award.
Raise the Bonsai in Paradise Captano!
(Tag yourself: io sono mancini che si scaccola)❣️
— reverie #BLM (@arcticdandeljon) August 11, 2019
Wonder who took the pain to take it home and water it daily?