Even as a 36-year old appearing to be coming to the end of his days in the beautiful game, Francesco Totty is still going strong and continuing to deliver us magical moments. Just the sight of him with a ball at his phenomenal feet leaves us in awe. To many, he is just one of those players you can't help but admire, the way he trots around with such elegance and flamboyance and the manner in which he plays his football.
There are many reasons why fans and players alike develop an admiration for such a classy footballer like Totti, but one of the main reasons is due to the loyalty and devotion he has shown to Roma. The mercurial Italian has stuck by his side in tough times and all the honours and achievements he has won with the Giallrossi have been well deserved. Recently The Gladiator revealed that he once snubbed a massive move to Real Madrid in 2004; Madrid were quite possibly the biggest club in the world, but Totti continued to serve his beloved Roma and still continues to do so. You simply cannot question his commitment and loyalty; he is Roma through and through.
Totti has spent his entire career with Roma and there is no doubt that he is one of the finest players of his generation. We all know what sort of player he is as we've seen him produce remarkable moments in huge games, so I won't go too in-depth as to how this magician plays his football. What I will discuss, is the impact he has had on the game of football. Obviously, there have been a number of players who have been deployed in that number 10 role, but no player plays in that position like Totti does, he has made it his own.
It would be wrong to say Totti introduced the role of a trequarista, but it's evident to see that he has enhanced the role as far as it could possibly go. Operating behind the striker, Totti has been virtually impossible to stop, he has been able to control the pace of the game so far up the pitch and it's a quality no other player has ever been able to replicate. He sort of created his own position on the pitch, in the sense that the area and space he played in was not occupied by any other player. The edge of the box is Totti's zone, there he can choose whether to strike a sumptuous shot towards goal, or deliver a jaw-dropping pass into the path of a team-mate. Totti is the perfect number 10.
Fabio Capello was the coach who brought the best out of Totti in the 2000-2001 campaign; the season in which Roma won the Scudetto. Capello identified how key Totti was to this side and he built the team around him. In that trequarista role, Totti was the heartbeat of the Roma side, key to every attack they constructed and in the thick of all the action. His contribution to the side in that season was impeccable; he hit thirteen goals in the season and contributed even further with numerous assists. Totti didn't single-handedly win the Scudetto, because there were other players in the side who did their bit for the team, but Totti carried the Romans forward and in the most difficult of situations, Totti's class saw them through. They could rely on him to come up with the goods, even if it wasn't going to plan.
Looking at some stats on this phenomenon, I was amazed of the record he has at Roma. Since his progression to the first team squad in 1993, Totti has made 501 appearances for Roma, scoring a staggering 215 goals. That is quite brilliant. To score over 200 goals for a club which hasn't been as successful as some of the other elite clubs in Serie A, just shows the ability which Totti possesses. He really is a special player. The purpose of this article was to outline how Totti is still going strong even as his career comes to a close, so to prove this, here are some stats on Totti from the 2012/13 season: Totti created a total of 102 chances in Serie A;
evidence of the almost perfect vision he has always had in his career. He scored 12 goals, which is extremely commendable for an ageing player. Totti also contributed to the side with 12 assists, again highlighting his incredible ability to play team-mates into dangerous positions. These statistics suggest that Totti is still a footballing phenomenon.
When doing a bit of research on Totti, I clicked on the Roma website and found a profile on Totti. It contained all his achievements and statistics but further down was a paragraph which read:
"It is written Totti but you read Roma: Francesco is in fact not only the captain of AS Roma, but the symbol of the Club. Roman from San Giovanni, and "practicing" supporter of Roma since a very young age, when he went by scooter with friends to see Roma in the Curva Sud, the number ten is without question the number one in the history of this team. His numbers say it all: Totti has reached and surpassed many existing records in his long career with the jersey of Roma, which began as a child and is still in full progress ... always with the same shirt, always with the same enthusiasm. He is the epitome of the so-called "flags" of football - an example for all. Back to the numbers with the club: Francesco is the Roma’s top scorer in the league, in the European Competitions, and overall, the best penalty scorer. He is the Roma player with the most games played and most goals in the Italian National Team, and is the best Italian striker among current players! But not only scorer: he is the player with most games played in Serie A and in European cups! An unbeatable career that of the Captain, is enriched by its milestones: the historical Scudetto in 2000/01 (and Francesco is, by the way, the only one of that group still remaining to defend the giallorossa jersey ...), the League’s Supercup in 2001 and 2007, and the two Italian Cups won in recent years. Totti can also bear the title of European Champion under 21 (won in Spain in '96 in the final against the Spanish led by Raul) and especially that of World Cup Champion (trophy won in 2006 in Germany with teammates De Rossi and Perrotta). In addition to his team trophies are his individual awards: Golden Shoe and top scorer in Serie A in 2006/07, two “Golden Guerin” and a dozen “Soccer Oscar AIC” as best young player, as the best Italian player and as the best overall player, top scorer and author of the best goal of the year. In short, many goals, countless games of class and amazing memories to keep in the heart of all Roma fans: this is Totti, the captain. "Il Capitano."
Totti is now 36 years of age, so you sense that his glittering career may come to a close anytime soon. He has lost a few yards of pace and he is growing old, but the talent is still there, it certainly hasn't disappeared. If he does decide to retire in a few years, I'd expect him to still have some form of involvement with Roma; his affection for Roma will never die. There's no doubt that a player of his calibre is irreplaceable so until he retires, make sure you continue to enjoy watching him play. Francesco Totti - he has still got it and will always still have it.
I'll finish with a link to this video of Totti's Top 20 goals in a Roma shirt, be sure to give it a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RaQGrYnwUM
Written by Josh Lawless,
Follow him on twitter: @DisguisedPass
*All stats taken from the Official Roma websites and Squawka.