edited by Lorenzo Cascini

The third team in the capital is called Roma City and has the 2nd largest sports center in Europe

Everything starts from Rome, passing through the United States and returning home.

If he closes his eyes he sees himself at the Olimpico with the Lazio shirt, ready to wage war with Cruz or Shevchenko on duty. “ They were real battles . We were really fighting, I don’t know if ‘if you can tell’».

Modibo Diakité , 35 years old from Bourg-la-Reine, France. Southern suburbs of Paris. He jokes and talks in perfect dialect , because the capital – after so many years in Lazio – has become his home. «I arrived when I wasn’t even twenty and I still live here today». The present says Roma City, an emerging reality fighting for salvation in Serie D but aiming big. « Have you seen the sports centre? It’s impressive, only in Sunderland and Formello have I seen similar structures. And I have toured many teams between Serie A, B, England and Spain. We looked into each other’s eyes with the president and he convinced me , even if his seriousness wasn’t the only thing that made me say yes ».

Modibo stops . He looks up, smiles and leaves. “Here I am, sorry thinking about it made me laugh.” Context. «It’s my first day at the sports center, I had an appointment with him to talk and I can’t find him. I call him, I look for him a bit, nothing . Then they tell me that he is following the work of the bricklayers. I arrive to find him in jeans and a T-shirt, standing on a ladder helping them. He stuff you say now I’ll change and I’ll come too . He involves you. How do you say no to a man who spends millions and then acts like this? When he says he wants to reach the top, he’s not joking, there are very few projects like this in Italy.

Then there is a concept that acts as a leitmotif to the chat. « I didn’t give weight to the category , I want to be an example for the boys. I try to help them and give advice when I can. Then she takes out a postcard, with a mantra-like phrase written on it. “You must never think you’ve made it, even if magical moments happen along the way.” Moments in which you stop and add a green check to the item “dreams come true”. Here is the first .

«We were playing in the Coppa Italia against Milan. I’m starting as a starter and who am I facing? Ronaldinho. I who in Paris with my mates skipped school to go and watch his training with PSG. For us more than an idol . We would throw tennis balls at him on the court, he would catch them and start making numbers after numbers. Marcarlo was a bit like making the dreams of my teammates who were there come true, but above all those of me as a child». But that wasn’t the only check mark . «The Italian Cup with Lazio and the Super Cup won against Mou’s Inter. They are emotions that you never forget.

Today he can happen to tell them in the locker room, keeping glued to his younger companions who dream hearing certain names. « Occasionally it has happened, perhaps by giving formative examples that can explain to the kids how the great champions behave . Also because – in my experience – very often the stronger the players are, the more humble and helpful they are towards the group. I am thinking of Klose, but also of Matuzalem, Pandev or Borja Valero. But I could really go on naming names for a week .’

Diakité calls it a lifestyle choice. He has dropped from one category, marrying a project in which he also feels involved in the future. «My dream is to deal with young people, I would like to be an educator even before being a coach . I’d like to teach them what I’ve learned in many years of football. In the meantime, to have respect, to fly low and to invest in one’s own merits». A bit like what happened to him. «As soon as I arrived at Lazio, Delio Rossi told me to improve the qualities in which I was already strong. ‘You fight, use your physique and make war, others will take care of setting it up’. He was right . It’s not necessary that everyone knows how to do everything, but that they do what they do best so that it is functional for the rest of the team».

If he closes his eyes again, this time thinking about the future, he sees himself there, in the center of the field giving directions with the same grit with which he leads the defense as a player today. From the field to the bench . «I think doing it at Roma City would be wonderful. Here are the means, structures and organization to become a point of reference for young people. Obviously after Rome and Lazio . It will take time, but a really great Academy can be created» The gaze then immediately turns to the present. «I still play though eh! I give 100% in every workout, I want to improve even more. Now we aim to save ourselves, then we’ll see. With a similar company behind us, we must not set limits». With humility and organization like polar stars, without ever being afraid to aim high.No vertigo problems, Modibo guarantees . Besides, he’s used to it. Like that kid who threw tennis balls at Dinho and then found himself marking him in front of the 70,000 Olimpico team. The climb is long, it will be difficult, tiring. But the horizon is still so full of ideas to add and dreams to achieve.