Most football fans will be familiar with the name Francesco Totti.
He made his debut for his hometown club on the 28th of March 1993, aged just 16. A short six years later, he went on to become the youngest captain in Serie A history.
He has lead Roma through the most successful spell in their history. Now, at 39 years old, he is considered Roma’s greatest ever player and is counted amongst Italy’s best as well, having played an integral role in their World Cup triumph in 2006.
His unwavering loyalty throughout his career has lead him to become a symbol of Roma. Recently, however, their iconic captain has had a rather public spat with his manager Luciano Spalletti over the amount of football he has been getting – leading many to speculate that this may be his final season with the team he has supported and played for all his life.
Throughout his career, Totti has amassed an impressive collection of trophies. He guided Roma to a historic Scudetto (Serie A win) in 2001, back to back Coppa Italia wins in 07 and 08 along with two Supercoppa Italiana (Community Shield) wins in 01 and 07.
Individually, he has won a record 11 Serie A ‘end of season’ awards – including two Serie A Footballer of the Year awards, five Serie A Italian Footballer of the Year Awards and two Serie A Goal of the Year awards. In 2001, he finished a career high 5th in the Ballon d’Or voting. In 2007, he won the European Golden Shoe award, scoring 26 goals and pipping the likes of Ruud van Nisterooy and Didier Drogba to the award.
He holds just about every Roma record you could think of, including most Serie A appearances (593) and goals (244) for the club. He currently sits second in the all-time Serie A goal scorers list.
These individual awards paint the picture of an exceptionally talented footballer. As does the fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona came calling for him during his prime. His return of just 5 trophies from some 23 years of service to one of Italy’s bigger clubs somehow seems unfair.
A closer look at his career leads one to believe that he may be one of the unluckiest footballers of all time. He has a rather staggering 16 runners-up medals throughout his Roma career. He has no fewer than 8 Serie A runner-up medals, 5 Coppa Italia runner-up medals and 3 Supercoppa Italiana runner-up medals.
This does help explain why Roma, a club that only have 3 Serie A titles to their name, are considered a giant of Italian football. They appear to be the nearly men of Italian football. So close, yet so far – and so often.
One club men are often adored by the footballing public. Players such as Giggs, Maldini and Puyol are admired the world over for their talent and their loyalty. Fans want one club men and can’t help but be disappointed when players move on when in the twilight of their careers. When players do split from their hometown clubs after decade(s) of service, it is often rather cruel. Real Madrid’s rather cutthroat method of dissecting fan favourites Raul and Iker Casillas from the club being a case in point.
Totti has indicated that he wants to play beyond the end of the current season. Given his recent spat with the newly appointed Roma manager, it is unclear whether Roma are willing to offer the soon to be 40 year old Totti a contract extension. Fans – both Roma and football fans in general – will be hoping that they don’t part ways.