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Džeko leads Roma against old rival Manchester United

FOOTBALL By Associated Press | April 29th 2021
Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Manchester United - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - March 7, 2021. Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring their first goal. [Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths]

Edin Džeko has been linked with so many different destinations and involved in so much controversy this season that it’s been hard to keep track.

In September, he was so close to joining Juventus that he momentarily stopped playing for Roma. In January, there was a supposed swap deal set up with Inter Milan for Alexis Sánchez.

Then came a falling out with coach Paulo Fonseca that resulted in him being stripped of Roma’s captaincy.

But Džeko never left the Italian capital, and now he’s going back to his former home city in England to lead the Giallorossi against Manchester United in the first leg of the Europa League semifinals today.

“There have been a lot of highs and lows this season. I had some tough times personally due to a lot of things but I don’t like to look back. What happened happened,” Džeko said recently.

“We need to look forward. We’re in the semifinals, which a lot of people didn’t expect. We’ve got to enjoy ourselves, because it’s not every week that you get to play at Old Trafford.”

AS Roma's Edin Dzeko. [Reuters]

Džeko, though, knows what it means to visit United as an opponent. He did it for five seasons with Manchester City before joining Roma in 2015 — and scored six goals in the Manchester derby.

“Since I left Manchester City six years ago, I’ve never been back,” Džeko told UEFA.com. “It will be a special game for me, since it was a derby for me until a few years ago.”

Two other Roma players, Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, previously played for United.

Smalling joined Roma on loan in 2019 after nine years with Manchester United. He made the move permanent last year after a strong first season at Roma but has struggled with injuries.

Smalling and his family were also recently the target of an armed robbery. 

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