It was an emotional day for SPAL coach Daniele De Rossi, who confirmed Radja Nainggolan will join his team tomorrow and ‘never wanted to let go’ when hugging his former Roma boss Claudio Ranieri.

There is a big match on in Serie B this evening between De Rossi’s SPAL and Ranieri’s Cagliari, so when the pair met on the touchline before kick-off, there was inevitably a strong emotional response.

“I do this job to feel alive,” confessed De Rossi to DAZN.

“Seeing Ranieri and Nainggolan again really gives me strong sensations. I embraced the coach just now, I never wanted to let go.”

De Rossi played 74 matches for Roma under Ranieri’s guidance, scoring 11 goals and providing 14 assists, one of the most prolific periods of his career.

They were at the Stadio Olimpico together from 2009 to 2011, then again briefly in the 2018-19 season.

SPAL President Joe Tacopina confirmed that Nainggolan will join them as a free agent, although De Rossi tried to dampen the enthusiasm a little bit.

“I’ve been thinking for a while of working with Nainggolan and I think it’s only right to talk about this after he comes and trains with us on Monday. We’ll see how he is doing and must remember it’ll take a while to get him back into shape.”

The former Cagliari, Roma and Inter midfielder was at Royal Antwerp, who cut him from the squad after he was caught smoking on the bench.

Now 34, Nainggolan was at Roma with De Rossi from 2014 to 2018.

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