Peter Drury revisits his commentary of Roma's incredible comeback v Barcelona in 2018

Drury's words were iconic during Roma vs Barca

"Roma have risen from their ruins! Manolas, the Greek God in Rome! The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes!

"This was not meant to happen. This could not happen. This IS happening. It's a Greek from Mount Olympus who has come to the seven hills of Rome and pulled off a miracle!" 

Those were the iconic words of legendary commentator Peter Drury, who summed up one of the most famous comebacks in Champions League history back in 2018.

Roma, 4-1 down from the first leg of their quarter-final against Barcelona, scored three times at the Stadio Olimpico to dump their opponents out on away goals. 

It was absolutely unbelievable, just incredible. Football, eh? 

For most fans, that excitement and drama feels like a far cry from the kind of action we’ve been watching in recent weeks.

Since the domestic game has returned post-lockdown, it’s fair to say things just aren’t the same with matches being played behind-closed-doors. 

Football has returned behind closed doors

The atmosphere really is everything and without fans, football really is nothing. 

Hopefully, when the Champions League returns in August, we'll see some drama akin to that of Roma vs Barcelona two years ago - even though it will return behind-closed-doors. 

With the draw being made on Friday, here at GIVEMESPORT, we thought it best to reminisce about a time when drama and excitement ruled the competition. 

We thought it best to reminisce about THAT night in Rome, with the man who made it even more iconic - Peter Drury himself. 

Manolas was Roma's hero that night

"It was one of those nights where the planets aligned. I was pretty relaxed, to be honest," the commentator told GIVEMESPORT of the match.

"If you think about it, you wouldn’t bother preparing for that scenario, would you? It simply couldn’t happen.

"The chances of Roma coming back that night were slim. The chances of a big Greek centre-back scoring the third goal in Rome were almost nothing.

There were wild celebrations in Rome

"It’s only when Roma got to within one that my radar switched on and I thought 'if they score again, this is going to be news.'" 

News is exactly what it was. Kostas Manolas towered above Nelson Semedo to drive a header past Marc-Andre ter Stegen, writing not just himself and Roma into folklore, but Drury too. 

"I wasn’t sure in the first instance who had scored, I needed a line to fill. So ‘Roma have risen from their ruins’ just came out," Peter continued.

Messi was on the losing side in Rome

"If you look back at the rest word for word, it’s a pretty weird series of sentences. I don’t do social media so I walked out of the ground that night having no idea people were remotely interested in it.

It’s lovely people remember that, but I’ve got to tell you it’s a fluke!

What may have been a fluke for Drury brought joy to millions of football fans around the world. His commentary that night was very well received. 

To this day, supporters are still watching his brilliant monologue back on YouTube and the comments section is full of people calling him an 'artist' or a 'poet'. 

"It makes me feel happy people can enjoy moments like that, it’s lovely," Drury said of the response he received.

"Nobody switches on for the commentator, you switch on for the game of football.

But if once in a while, you come up with something that really delights people, then that to me is a really glorious bonus.

Right now, football fans are craving a game like Roma vs Barcelona. But will we ever reach that level of drama in a stadium with no crowd? 

Stadiums around the world are empty

It's a huge ask, but Peter believes it's possible - and he believes that commentators can help avoid the feeling of a 'dull' game. 

"The big difference [with behind-closed-doors football] is the lack of a real soundtrack - the lack of passion, electricity and feel within the ground," he said.

"It’s a big miss - the obvious moment when the ball goes in the net. You lack that wave of noise on which to surf.

"It’s the commentator’s job to articulate the game they are commenting on.

Football is less exciting with fans

"If that game is dull and the ambience is lacking and it’s not happening, your audience isn’t stupid, you shouldn’t be telling them what plainly isn’t the case.

"But people have been yearning for football to come back. So we don’t want to be telling them this is dull and a bit quiet, it’s about striking the balance.

Even in the absence of a crowd, millions around the world are watching these games. People are engaged by them. A dull game isn’t a dull game for the engaged supporter.

Drury returns to action this weekend for Watford vs Newcastle. It's a game the hosts need to win as they battle against relegation. 

Watford need a win on Saturday

Will we see drama akin to that famous night in Rome two years ago? Perhaps not. But if something truly special does happen at Vicarage Road, Peter is the perfect man for the occasion. 

Although, 'Watford have risen from their ruins' doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? 

You can watch Watford vs Newcastle at 12.30pm Saturday 11 July for free on Amazon Prime Video, or fans can stream the game at no cost on Twitch.

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