Thursday Jun 29, 2017  
     
 
  22/10/2013: Move over Francesco Totti, is there a new 'Il Capitano' in town?
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'Candreva-mania' as dubbed by Lazio Fans everywhere is sweeping the nation.

The Roman born, once controversial midfielder has become increasingly under the spotlight, not only for his unrelenting attack minded play, but his passionately trademarked even overzealous, fanatical celebrations.

The controversy all started when an older video interview was uncovered with Candreva mentioning he had a photo of cross-town rival's AS Roma's supposedly iconic Francesco Totti on his wall early in his career, maybe during the 2006 World Cup which in turn set off the 'Romanista' alarm bells everywhere amongst fans.

Poor Antonio had to run the gauntlet per se from then on in to clear his name, simply because Lazio fans are not so forgiving with this kind of activity. But win us over he did, with style and finesse, going from 'zero to hero'. Scoring the most spectacular come back goal against AS Roma in the 35th minute that one could ask for in the Derby della Capitale (Derby of all Derbies), on the 11 Nov, 2012 infront of a packed home crowd.

Describing it as "the most important moment of his career" in the Rome edition of Gazzetta dello Sport and stating “The goal in the derby was the most important emotional moment of my career, it was an incredible experience and is something that is very unique.” to forzaitalianfootball.com.

By cancelling out AS Roma's Erik Lamela's 9 minute opening goal and triggering a fantastic comeback, Candreva took charge leading S.S. Lazio to win 3-2 in a thrilling, edge of the seat game, that one will never forget. The passionate celebrations that followed with the Curva Nord going wild, demonstrated that yes, there was indeed room in our hearts for behaviour such as this. This was the turning point, crucial in reversing any doubts of his loyalty. How could a Romanista do such a thing? Simply put, it's not possible.

Of course this was only the beginning, scoring 6 goals in the Serie A in the 2012/13 season with us, complemented with 1 in Europe. He has continued to press forward in each game leading the team by example, showing a true Laziale 'Non Mollare Mai' spirit of never giving up.

A great example of this was a recent away Europa game in Turkey against Trabzonspor on the 3rd of October 2013 when we found ourselves down 3 goals early in the first half after a bit of defensive frailty, extreme slippery, rainy weather and of course bad luck. Candreva again led our comeback where a loss seemed on the cards we leveled in dramatic fashion saving a point and ending the game Trabzonspor 3 - 3 Lazio.

Not only has he been on fire for Lazio, already our leading goal scorer this season, but this has been instrumental in his continuous call up for the national team. He has infact played for Italy since the U-18 level though, making his debut way back in October 2004 but it was short lived and it has only been in recent times where he has come alive with Lazio that he has not only caught the eye of Azzurri coach Prandelli but now he is in the first eleven and often starts games.

He has repaid the Azzurri faithful also during the recent June 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil proving himself to be a very valuable team member and player often switching positions and being able to be played almost anywhere in midfield. A memorable highlight of this tournament was Candreva's almost cheeky chip shot goal past the most recent World Cup winning Spanish Keeper Iker Casillas in the knockout stages semi-final.

Rumours emerged earlier this year linking our new hitman with Napoli, Manchester United and others. Manchester United were told to back off as early as July this year, with Lazio president Claudio Lotito giving no doubt that his future is indeed with us publicly announcing "He's not for sale". All speculations were ended of course on the 9th of October when the club publically announced that he has infact signed a new 5 year contract.

Some fans may want our goalkeeper Federico Marchetti for a captain, it is true that he is also selected for the national team as a possible back up for Azzurri goal keeper Gianluigi Buffon, but do we really want a 'bencher' as a captain? Do we want someone who will most likely never see any game time in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, unless Number 1 choice Buffon is absolutely not available, or someone who will be a starter, someone influencing play and able to set up goals or be in a position to score one himself on Football's greatest stage. Besides how much can you actually lead a team from inside the goal? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to have someone in the thick of the action, able to give orders that can actually be heard, someone versatile, who is able to play anywhere needed in midfield. Besides Marchetti could now even be overlooked as second Keeper choice after his blunders against Armenia in the most recent World Cup qualifer, where Italy conceded what could have been two easy saves early in the game, and the blame put squarely on his shoulders. Another possible candidate could be Brazilian midfielder Hernanes, but we really have to question his loyalty after recent reports from Rome are emerging claiming his refusal to extend his contract in favour of signing for another club.

It would also be the first time we had an actual Roman captain since the days of fan favourite Alessandro Nesta, who is still firmly in our hearts. No one will ever forget his service and the fact he wore a Lazio shirt under his AC Milan kit the time he was forced to play there. With our official captain Stefano Mauri not available for being found guilty of alleged match-fixing knowledge for 9 months (originally the sentence was 4 and a half years) and our back-up captain Argentine Christian Ledesma, prone to errors has struggled not only in the leadership role but to make any kind of impact for quite sometime, which has resulted in him being put on the bench by coach Vladimir Petkovic and no longer a first team choice, It is time to select a new captain.

Antonio Candreva has dedicated his best years to us, poured his sweat into our shirt, pledged his allegiance, gone the extra distance to prove himself one of us and we should look forward to an exciting future with him. So I say YES to Candreva and I urge you too.
Author: Michael D Bailey
 
 
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