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Totti – Forever in Rome?

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I have held my peace a bit on ‘the Totti situation’ at Roma as I don’t really want to upset anyone and this is an emotive issue. But sometimes being half Italian means you can’t shut up even when you know you really, really should.

For those New Zealand readers who might not be aware of what I’m talking about, ‘the Totti situation’ started when our talismanic captain hit out at new coach Luciano Spalletti in the media for not giving him enough game time, stating “I can’t stay at Roma like this”. He is currently in negotiations with James Pallotta for a new one year playing contract while our President has expressed a public preference for Totti to instead come upstairs and become a club director. Speculation is rife that Totti will leave either for MLS or to reunite with former Roma coach Claudio Ranieri at Leicester.

It’s very sad, just looking through Getty Images to pick a photo for this post made me feel quite emotional, but this day was probably always going to arrive.

I recently picked up and binge read a copy of the latest Four Four Two magazine featuring an extensive article on Totti. It makes much of the fact that many in the English speaking world have no idea how good he is. They are mystified by him – they can’t understand what anyone sees in him. I feel sorry for those people.

He’s not just wonderful for staying at Roma all these years, despite clubs like Real Madrid offering him a lot of money to leave when he was younger. He’s wonderful because he’s arguably the best footballer that Italy has ever produced – and if you can’t see that you either haven’t watched enough of him or you are blind.

When you learn to appreciate his deft touches, his subtle little flicks, the way he sees an opportunity nobody else sees and sets it up to perfection, you can’t unsee these things. And on top of all that, despite being a ‘number 10’ assist specialist, he’s also the second top goal scorer in Serie A history – and he’s unlikely to be overtaken by anyone else anytime soon.

If he had a couple more seasons in him, he might have been able to overtake Silvio Piola, and he might have gone out with another scudetto to his name, but he doesn’t and he won’t. The question is – does he understand that reality? His recent actions seem to suggest not.

I fear that giving him a one year playing contract will just be delaying the inevitable and we will only find ourselves back in the same position this time next year – the sad fact is he’s 40 and he can’t go on forever. I wish it wasn’t true, partly because I’m 40 too, but it is.

I don’t subscribe to the ‘give him whatever he asks for because he’s Totti’ point of view. What if he’s still asking to be in the team when he’s 50? It’s a very bad cliché but it’s a cliché for a reason: No individual is bigger than the team – the team comes first. Spalletti has to pick the best eleven starting players and three substitutions for each game and nobody is better placed to decide who those players are than him. If Totti is not one of them, Totti is not one of them. There’s no room for sentiment here.

The sad reality is he probably should have retired at the end of last season. He deserves to go out as a legend, not as a guy who didn’t know when it was over.

I remain unconvinced that he will leave, but if he does go so be it. I don’t see how it can be avoided. I don’t want it to happen. I want our famous ‘one club man’ to stay that way forever, but that is totally up to him.

Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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