Francesco Totti – keep Sucking That Right Thumb Of Yours For Many More Years

Totti

In 1989, there was a 13 year old making some noise in Italy. A young attacker born in Rome playing for Atletico Roma’s youth team (now defunct), had drawn attention from AC Milan and A.S. Roma scouts. He had previously played for Fortitudo’s primavera side at age 8 before moving to Smit Trastevere’s, ultimately ending up at Atletico.

He had two offers on the table, one from local Serie A club Roma, the other from Italian giants Milan. However his mother ultimately declined the Rossoneri’s offer so that her son could stay in his hometown. He eventually joined the youth system there, thus beginning the legacy of Francesco Totti.

Three years later, Totti got his professional debut on March 28th, 1993 against Brescia. He didn’t score, but the next season at 17 years old, Totti got his first goal in a 1-1 draw versus Foggia in September 1994. Carlo Mazzone was the coach who decided to give the teenager more minutes following an impressive display the previous year. By the end of the 1996-97 campaign, at just 20 years old, Totti scored 16 times.

In 1998, Totti would finally start reaching his potential. Zdenek Zeman was named manager, coming over from fierce rivals Lazio and moved the striker to the left wing of his 4-3-3 system. Totti was subsequently named captain, a role he holds to this day. Being from the capital, he started to become a household name with the supporters. Many predicted that he’d become the club’s poster boy and best player to ever wear the Giallorossi shirt.

Totti would go on to score 30 goals in 78 appearances as a winger. He was awarded the Serie A Young Player of the Year award in 1998, leading to a call-up to the Italian national team’s World Cup squad. However the Zeman reign would be short lived as he was replaced by Fabio Capello, who once again moved Totti to another position, this time he would operate as a trequartista. Capello wanted to take advantage of Totti’s passing skills and playmaking abilities, he was also keen on building the team around the 24 year old.

The 2000-01 season would be a magical one for Romanisti worldwide. They won the Scudetto by two points over Juventus, their first title since 1983. That led to Totti being named Italian Footballer of the Year in 2000 and 2001, earning a spot on the Ballon d’Or shortlist during those years. He would end up finishing in 15th and fifth respectively, but that didn’t slow him down. The next two campaigns under Capello would see Totti playing in a familiar role as second striker in a 3-5-2. 56 goals over 107 games, including two straight seasons with 20 each, remain as two if his most impressive displays in his career.

Under new manager Luciano Spaletti in 2005-06, Totti was moved into a deeper role in behind the strikers, but would still enjoy his best season ever. 32 goals in 50 games in 2006-07 saw him win the Capocannoniere award with 26 markers in Serie A.

Totti

 

Since then, Totti has scored 94 times, where he sits second on the all-time list with 226 goals. He’s 58 behind Silvio Piola, meaning Totti would probably have to play until he’s 40. At 36 years old, one would think that’s impossible, but that’s not how “il Capitano” operates. Even in the twilight of his career, Totti continues to contribute to Roma like he’s still in his prime. His 20th anniversary at the club was this past Thursday, yet it doesn’t seem like that ago when a baby faced Totti was leading Italy to glory at Euro 2000, eventually losing to France in the final.

Totti was capped 58 times by the Azzurri. He operated mainly as a playmaker, and even after retiring from international football in 2007, he still felt the itch to come back for both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, but was never called up. What’s more impressive is that even at his age, he could still get into Cesare Prandelli’s setup for Brazil next summer.

“At the end of the season we’ll evaluate the physical condition of the players. We started the campaign with a project and if there are players with great character in good shape then they’ll be taken into consideration. Does that include Totti? Why not, if he’s in good shape,” said Prandelli.

Fitness would be the only thing holding Totti back. Even at 36, he possesses the stamina and work rate as teammates like Alessandro Florenzi, Erik Lamela, and Michael Bradley, all of whom are in their early or mid twenties. There’s always the possibility of injuries, and Totti has had a history of knee problems, but if he can stay fit, which he has recently, then he might become a significant part of Prandelli’s plans in Brazil.

As for now, Totti continues to produce even 20 years after his professional career began. Even if he doesn’t manage to get back into the Italy setup, he’ll still be an ageless wonder and will surely go down as one of the best to ever play football.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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