The time for talking is over: Francesco Totti is never going to stop. And these are not words spoken out of a fan’s blind adoration or a friend’s esteem. These are the words which the AS Roma captain himself wrote in every paper headline, with goal number 305 against Sampdoria, on a day which was going all wrong, and not only in terms of the weather, for his team. And so Totti came on, once again on the pitch to keep his AS Roma afloat, as he did at the end of last season.
And it wasn’t just the Italian papers that reiterated the Totti legend, the international press too is crazy about him. While the Brits spoke of Timeless Totti, and the Spanish of Leyenda Totti, on the other side of the world China proclaimed “无托蒂不罗马！你是唯一！” (“No Totti, no Roma! You are unique!).
In reality what this player was, and is still, capable of should have already been clear, but it seems that he always manages to spring a surprise whenever he is called into battle for his team.
Indeed the captain had already shown his ability to become a record breaker when, just over two years ago, at the age of 38, he scored in the top European competition against Manchester City and CSKA Moscow, becoming the oldest player to score in the Champions League (the tournament which has replaced the European Cup over the last 25 years). And Rome itself also holds the record for the oldest player to play in this competition, a record which could be untouchable as it is held by the former Lazio goalkeeper Marco Ballotta, who played his last match in this competition aged 43 years and 8 months.
And now Francesco is 40, but his legs don’t seem to realise and are in such good condition that the years melt away. 40 is just a number and the captain doesn’t want to think about numbers, nor do his fans around the world. They would like to keep watching him for another 10 years if possible.
However, his club A.S. Roma have in fact started thinking seriously about the numbers and see in their captain the chance to beat the record for the oldest goal scorer in Serie A, held by Alessandro Costacurta who scored on 19 May 2007 against Udinese, at the age of 41 years and 25 days. Another contract renewal for Francesco Totti could therefore pave the way to a further record.
In the meantime Europa League 2016/2017 has started and the captain’s presence on the pitch in this competition, which started with a draw against Viktoria Plzeň, on 15 September 2016, could be the secret weapon which Roma still seems to need pending the move from the individual Totti to the 3 or 4 Tottis that Luciano Spalletti has spoken about so much in recent interviews.
And again in the Europa League Totti, just by coming on, immediately beat the record for the oldest forward in this competition. And that is not all. The Roma captain might also manage, with a bit of luck and the help of his teammates, to beat the record for the oldest goal scorer in the Europa League too, a record which is held by Daniel Berg Hestad, the former Norwegian defender of Molde FK, who scored his last goal in the Europa League aged 40 years and 3 months, on 5 November 2015. For Totti it would be sufficient to score in the round of 16 of this edition if Roma manage to accompany him towards another record.
And once again, on what was a disappointing day overall, he scored again, against Turin, and although his goal this time did not drive his team to victory, he showed us how fundamental the Roma captain’s clinical goalscoring continues to be.
In the meantime the Roma star is continuing to enjoy his time, time which exceeds twenty-three years (not counting the other 10 years spent ruling the roost in Roma’s youth teams), far from the spotlight, without a concern in the world. And while the sales of his team shirt continue to increase in Roma Stores, together with offers from overseas clubs to sign him up when his contract ends with Roma, Totti goes on with his life as he always has, training and spending time with his children. Like a true champion, on and off the field.