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Cafu’s Triple Sombrero On Pavel Nedvěd Was The Sort Of Quality We Miss Most

In football’s absence we’re left to discuss purely quantitative things: the 25-point gap between Liverpool and Manchester City, the number of days between now and a hypothetical restart of the season, the amount of money that everyone’s losing during the shutdown, etc. 

What’s lost — and what’ll ultimately be overshadowed in time as the 2019-20 season becomes a footnote to the coronavirus pandemic — is the qualitative; the aspects and actions that defined the feeling of this campaign. It’s obviously an inconsequential value in the grand scheme of what we’re all collectively facing, but it’s a sentiment that’ll be lacking from this season’s coronation regardless of whether it’s ultimately voided, declared complete now or finished in a few months time. 

Although there might be an initial sense of joy in the simple statement of fact (Liverpool Premier League Champion 2019-20) and the banishment of a 30-year ghost, this is largely just an appeal to the rational. 

But what’s football without the romanticism? What can we possibly remember or celebrate that doesn’t elicit some sort of irrational feeling?

Perhaps the best example is Roma’s 2000-01 Serie A triumph, which marked the club’s third Scudetto and first since 1982-83. The season concluded with the most romantic of all title celebrations — a massive party inside the ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium Circus Maximus.

Roma party at the Circus Maximus

Party at the Circus Maximus!

Roma clinched Serie A on the final day, finishing two points above Juventus and six ahead of eternal rival Lazio thanks to the play of legendary attackers Gabriel Batistuta, Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella. 

But for all that, what’s best remembered is Cafu’s triple sombrero on Pavel Nedvěd during Roma’s 1-0 victory over Lazio in the Derby della Capitale on Dec. 17, 2000.

With nearly 74,000 in attendance at the Stadio Olimpico, the Brazilian defender’s flicks perfectly captured the zeitgeist of Roma’s sensational season, and this one fairly inconsequential moment has come to mean just as much as Batistuta’s 20 league goals.  

“I have watched it lots of times, yes,” said Cafu when asked about the sombrero. “Whenever I meet Roma fans they bring it up and ask me to tell them about it. It all happened very quickly but it was good to watch. Nedvěd is a fantastic player but he was helpless at the time. I am reminded of that sombrero against Nedvěd wherever I go in the world. It was not premeditated, everything happened quickly and naturally, it was a move against Lazio’s best player at the time.”

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