“We’re friends, you know how much I care about you. We started together with the Under-15 side, we had some splendid years together in the national team and we continue to meet as opponents in Serie A.
“You often score against me (10 times to be precise, that’s how many goals you have netted) like a champion who has forgotten our friendship…
“Then, at the final whistle, there are smiles between us again, like when I saved a penalty that I feared you would chip – it saddened me that was you.
“We are from a fortunate generation. It’s true that every season after the age of 30 is worth seven, but you seem to go back in time instead of ageing.
“You’ve written the history of Italian football, with the present and the future – you are a player who can not be doubted.
“And, for me, you’ll always be an Azzurro. An embrace from your friend, Gigi.”
Francesco Totti made his debut for Roma on March 28th, 1993, against Brescia, a 0-2 win.
Number 225. With this goal against Genoa, Francesco Totti joins Gunnar Nordahl as the second all time goal scorer in the history of Serie A. Totti has broken double figures 13 times in 20 seasons, a testament to his consistency. The play that set up the penalty was dubious but that’s how it goes sometimes. Take a bow Francesco.
At least one Roma player knew what was coming. As the Giallorossi congregated for their preseason training camp up in the hills at Riscone di Brunico in early July, many had heard the rumours about Zdenek Zeman’s brutal fitness sessions, but one had experienced them first-hand. “Fortunately I know him,” said Francesco Totti. “So I know what to expect.”
Thirteen years had passed since Zeman last coached this team—long enough for every other member of that Roma squad to either retire or move on to pastures new. But not Totti. A player who had turned down contracts from Milan and Lazio before he got the chance to sign for Roma as a teenager remained as committed to his boyhood club as he was back then.
He had welcomed Zeman back with open arms. The mutual admiration between coach and player is well-documented, dating back to their time together at the club between 1997 and 1999—a period in which Totti grew from precocious teen into a consistent difference-maker. In one famous interview long after he had left Roma, Zeman was asked to name the three best Italian players in circulation. “Totti, Totti and Totti,” he replied.
On numerous occasions, the forward would return such praise. After Zeman steered Pescara to promotion from Serie B last year, Totti informed him that: “You are football”. When the manager’s return to Roma was confirmed, he could barely contain his excitement. “I have had many managers, but the ones I have appreciated most are Zeman and [Luciano] Spalletti. Both are extremely well prepared, but [Zeman’s] football is the best thing for an attacker, there is nothing else like it.” Read the rest of this entry »