The story of Mr. Graziano Del Rossi

MILAN – He wasn’t looking for miracles, because he’s a Nerazzurri fan that’s convinced Inter don’t need any, and nor is he Argentinian, but from Pescara. His name is Graziano Del Rossi, 29, and he’s the fan who was photographed by Franco Origlia in St. Peter’s Square on Palm Sunday. Misled by the blue and white flag being waved alongside him and the shirt with Zanetti on the back that he’s holding up to Pope Francis in the picture, we concluded that he was part of a group of Argentines, until a colleague from, Giovanni Montopoli, set us straight.

So we decided to give him a call. We found him to be no ordinary fan, a 29-year-old with the same issues affecting his generation, such as trying to find a job and falling in love in France, which doesn’t make life easy, but he’s still very positive.

“I went on a day trip on Sunday to Rome because I’ve been a believer for a year now, since Francis became Pope. With him I discovered the message of faith, and I felt close to him. It’s something which helps you to find clarity within. I left Pescara at dawn, at 04:30, and three hours later I was in Rome, one of the first to reach the barriers. I was really close and the Argentinian girl with the flag in the photo also got there very early. I asked her how you say ‘Come on San Lorenzo’ in Spanish and then I repeated it to the Pope, who acknowledged me.”

So where does the Zanetti shirt fit into all this?

“That shirt for me, as a lifelong Inter fan, is special. It’s signed but in fact the autograph has faded a bit now because I play in it too! Javier Zanetti is a symbol to me, a real man, and there aren’t too many of them around.”

The Catholic faith and love for the Nerazzurri, there might not be an obvious link…

“No, they’re both a way of living your life. Inter is pure passion for me, I was there, I was one of the fans outside Parma v Inter, I was at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi. I went to kiss president Massimo Moratti and Tronchetti Provera too. I told him to bring back Mourinho. I wasn’t in Madrid though, I couldn’t get a ticket.”

You’re also looking positively towards the future…

“I began work when I was young, I don’t regret not having gone to university, now I want to spend my time doing charity work. There’s a lot that needs doing in Pescara, I see the priests working very hard and I’d like to give them a hand.”

And you must be delighted with your unexpected fame…

“I really didn’t expect it yesterday, but suddenly my phone started ringing, lots of friends saw me on! Honestly my phone was blowing up!”

Good luck with everything, Graziano!