Francesco Totti is the Italian personification of football, a loyalist, an icon and a TENLEGEND. Totti was raised in the Porta Metronia neighborhood of Roma. He joined the youth team of AS Roma in 1989, at the age of 13, and never left the club.
In May 1993, he debuted in the major League at 16, playing with the “Giallorossi” (Italian for Yellow-Reds from the club's home colors) through 25 seasons, 786 matches, and possessing 307 goals. If Roma is the Eternal City, Totti is Roma's steadfast son, and has been a fixture in Italian football since first made captain in 1998, at the age of just 22.
As modern football becomes more and more about statistics, focused on players being defined by how many trophies they have won, one man bucks the trend. His trophy cabinet may look a little bare compared to some, but few can match the influence and importance Francesco Totti had on the beautiful game, particularly for Italy. He has been described as "one of the last true Number 10s" by his compatriot, Roberto Baggio. He is simply "the God of football," according to Italian legend Sandro Mazzola.
In his own words, “Winning one league title at Roma to me is worth winning 10 at Juventus or Real Madrid.” Having caught the eye of those who seek out talent in childhood, the Roman was barely into adolescence before he captured national attention with a launching start for Roma at the tender age of 16. Thrown in by coach Vujadin Boskov in an away trip to Brescia on 28 March 1993, Totti immediately drew comparisons to Lupi icon Amedeo Amadei, who had debuted for the club as a 15-year-old in 1937.
Totti ranked second in terms of caps (615) in the Serie A League, after AC Milan's Paolo Maldini and before Juventus' Gigi Buffon. He also marked the third highest figure in the history of Italy's football in terms of number of matches played with the same team (786), again following Paolo Maldini (902 matches) and Inter-Milan's Javier Zanetti (858).
“We liked the player and we would have liked to include him in our plans, but when we expressed our interest, it immediately became clear that Totti didn’t want to leave Roma,” said Ferguson, manager for Manchester United at the time. Legendary coach, Claudio Ranieri said Totti was "...as important as the Colosseum is to Roma."
In his long career with the club, he helped AS Roma win one Italian Serie A League title, two domestic Coppa Italia titles, and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. He Retired at age of 40 ending his 25 long seasons at AS Roma. Francesco Totti remains the undisputed “King of Roma” in the hearts of its people.
When a day Roma fans across the globe thought unimaginable finally dawned in a crucial final day clash against Genoa, it proved to be more of a party than a football match. Tickets were at a premium as supporters flocked to catch one last glimpse of the man who had come to epitomise Roma and define a generation. Playing 40 minutes, the 40-year-old helped the Giallorossi to a late 3-2 victory before embarking on an emotional lap of honor around a stadium that had long been made his own and in front of a fanbase that had worshipped him for more than two decades.
For Totti, football was never solely about the accolades or the medals. Few players reach iconic status and are so worshipped by their own people as to become synonymous with their club. Yet, this is the status Francesco Totti achieved. "I can't tell you how much these colors meant, mean and will always mean to me," Totti.
He called himself "fortunate to have only worn one shirt," describing the undying bond to his team and his city as fundamental. “I just feel that my love for football never fades," said Totti. "It's a passion, my passion. It's so deep I can't imagine not fueling it any longer. Ever."
Though he may no longer be Roma's “Golden Boy,” he is still very much the “King of Roma.” As the Curva Sud continue to loudly proclaim, “c’è solo un capitano!”
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