Chris Smalling admits he has been ‘fighting hard to get back’ to Roma and is ‘thankful’ that he has completed his transfer from Manchester United.
The defender spent last season on loan and was barred from taking part in the Europa League Round of 16 by his parent club when the season was extended, but after months of tense negotiations, a deal was finally struck for €15m.
“It’s a massive, massive relief. I think that everyone knew I wanted to come back and to finally get it done, albeit so close to the deadline, it’s just pure relief. Now I can enjoy being back and then get straight back to it with the team tomorrow,” he told the official Roma website.
He was greeted at the airport this afternoon by fans chanting his name.
“It was truly, truly special. I could feel tingles up my spine. To see such a big crowd as soon as I landed… honestly, I felt the love from the fans as soon as I first stepped on the pitch but it has just grown and grown [since] and it’s just such a special feeling.
“A few times I’ve seen players sign at various places and they might get a crowd, but to have it happen to myself is something I never thought would happen. To have that just makes me want to really give back as much as I can.”
Smalling confirms the fans weren’t the only ones feeling anxious as the clock ticked down to the transfer deadline.
“I’m generally known as quite a calm guy but there were definitely times when I was just so up and down [emotionally]. Obviously, me knowing what I wanted to do but waiting for it to happen.
“But everyone here worked so hard to get it done, and I am so thankful to everyone who helped in that process.”
When asked what created such a strong bond with Roma straight away, the England international pointed to “the passion. Everyone here lives and breathes football. It’s something that is spoken about non-stop. Even from my first game I think that it’s just been a great feeling and something I’ve never wanted to leave.”
Smalling said he’s been watching Roma back in Manchester with his family.
“I think one of my first goals was to be here long-term, and now it’s about getting a trophy. I think that was something that was alluded to me when I first joined and I think now that is an aim that this club needs. Because I think even when I joined, this is obviously a massive club – but it has been without a trophy for a long time now.
“So that’s going to be one of my aims and I’m sure one of the team’s aims this season, to really give something back for the fans to cheer about.
“I am so happy to be here. I have been fighting hard to come back and finally we are reunited. I am ready to give my all, I can’t wait to get going again!”
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 6, 2020