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Roma defender cherishes chance to train at Harvard

Federico Fazio discusses his experience in the U.S. during the International Champions Cup.

AS Roma v FC Astra Giurgiu - UEFA Europa League
Roma’s Federico Fazio celebrates after scoring a goal during the Europa League match vs. FC Astra Giurgiu in September 2016.
Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

The International Champions Cup began with a bang on Wednesday when AS Roma and PSG went into penalty kicks. A miss by Gerson and a make by Marquinhos ultimately tilted the match in favor of Les Parisiens.

Though Roma didn’t earn the result it wanted, the energy at Comerica Park stood out to defender Federico Fazio. “The atmosphere at the stadium was very nice—as usual, we received a warm welcome here in the U.S.,” Fazio said to The Bent Musket, speaking through a translator.

Over the past week, Fazio has grown accustomed to these good vibes. Roma began practicing at Harvard University’s Ohiri Field on July 20, and Fazio has savored the experience.

“It’s surely a privilege for me and my teammates to have opportunity to train at the Harvard facilities for a few days of preseason training at one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. and in the world,” Fazio said.

The trip from Harvard to Roma’s home venue, Stadio Olimpico, spans more than 4,000 miles. But that hasn’t prevented Fazio from feeling supported by the Boston fans.

“There are always many kids watching the training sessions, so it’s nice to have them there; it’s a nice atmosphere,” Fazio said.

“It’s also our responsibility to try to be models for these kids to look up to. Obviously, when you are representing a club as important as Roma, you have to be models on and off the pitch.”

While trying to set a positive example for Boston’s youth, Fazio will use the International Champions Cup to build on his strong 2016 campaign. He spent the season on loan from Tottenham, but signed a permanent contract on July 15 after making 35 league starts. Wednesday’s match against PSG served as Fazio’s first under a full contract; he’ll play his second on Tuesday against Tottenham.

His third match will take place on July 30 in Foxobro, when Roma squares off with Juventus, one of its oldest rivals. Roma went 1-1 against Juventus in league play last season. Fazio started both matches. This time around, the center back says his new contract won’t make a difference—he plans to approach the match the same way he approaches every pre-season contest: focused on finding a rhythm and a defensive identity. Fazio hopes that mindset will lead Roma past Juventus.

Regardless of the outcome, he has cherished the chance to play in the U.S.

“I feel comfortable here,” Fazio said. “I’m proud to be here with Roma.”