- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ROME (AP) - Former Roma midfielder Eusebio Di Francesco was named manager of the Serie A runner-up on Thursday, charged with ushering the Giallorossi into a new era following the retirement of longtime captain Francesco Totti.

Roma announced that Di Francesco had signed a two-year contract to replace Luciano Spalletti, who left to coach Inter Milan.

Di Francesco played for Roma for four seasons from 1997-2001, helping the Giallorossi win Serie A in 2001.

The 47-year-old Di Francesco coached Sassuolo for the last five seasons, guiding the club up from Serie B in 2013 to a sixth-place finish and Europa League qualification in 2016. He previously coached Virtus Lanciano, Pescara and Lecce.

After retiring as a player in 2005, Di Francesco returned to Roma as team operations manager for the 2005-06 season.

“I am extremely happy to be able to return to Roma, to coach a club that has always meant a lot to me,” said Di Francesco, who will make his Champions League coaching debut next season. “I will give everything I have to make sure this team gets the results it deserves.”

Di Francesco becomes Roma’s sixth coach since a group of Boston executives purchased the club in 2011 to make it the first foreign-majority owned team in Serie A.

Roma has finished either second or third each of the past four seasons, and is looking to close the gap with Juventus, which has won Serie A for a record six straight years.

Totti retired when Serie A ended last month, meaning next season will be Roma’s first without him in a quarter of a century.

“When we sat down to discuss the ideal candidate for the role of Roma coach, we wanted someone who could come in and get the very best out of our first team players and also help bring through some of the great young talent coming out of our academy,” Roma president Jim Pallotta said.

“Our new sporting director Monchi singled out Eusebio Di Francesco and, with his style of play, we believe he’s the right fit for Roma,” Pallotta added.

The appointment came on the same day that Roma announced the transfer of veteran Mexico defender Hector Moreno from PSV Eindhoven, Monchi’s first signing.

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