The numbers are impressive: 250 goals, 92 assists, over 600 games played but the most extraordinary number is 1. Throughout his 24-year career Francisco Totti only played for a single soccer team. Totti grew up in Rome supporting AS Roma and when he got the chance to enter the club’s youth program he never imagined playing anywhere else. That’s not to say there weren’t offers and that those offers weren’t tempting. Totti could have made more money and won more trophies at Real Madrid or Manchester United but he chose to play for the club he loved.
In the age of journeymen and contract holdouts Totti is an anomaly. The loyalty and devotion he demonstrated on and off the field paid off in different ways and created a bond with fans few players experience. To the die-hard season ticket holders who populate the cheap seats and school children kicking balls around Totti is an idol. It makes no difference if the newly turned 40 year old lacks the speed and stamina to impact on games or that he only contributes from the bench these days. To them he remains ‘il capitano’ (the captain) which is why when he makes his final appearance on May 28th against Genoa the Olympic Stadium in Rome will be teeming with 70,634 fans intent on honouring their hero and the kind of player that doesn’t even come around once in a generation.
Your Guide to Italy:
Moon: Rome, Florence & Venice