Francesco Totti is one of the icons of the Italian game and is a legend of European football, mainly for his longevity and loyalty at AS Roma. Totti is a World Cup winner, Scudetto champion, and one of the oldest players to play and score in the UEFA Champions League, yet their is speculation from insiders at Roma that this could be his final season at the Stadio Olimpico. It’s hard to think of football without Totti, yet all the signs are pointing to the end because of what is happening at Roma.
For years there has been speculation about Totti leaving due to disagreements with someone or other (either the players, the management and/or the board), but this year seems to be the first where it could be true. Luciano Spalletti has returned to Roma following the disappointing reign of Frenchman Rudi Garcia, and the Italian has introduced a new youthful style to the club. Players like Mo Salah, Stephan El Shaarawy and Miralem Pjanic have benefitted from this new attacking style, but the experienced Totti hasn’t exactly enjoyed it.
After Totti hinted that he and Spalletti only share pleasantries during their training sessions, many thought that this could be it for the Roman icon. The Roma Ultras would not really allow this to happen as easily as simply letting Totti walk away into the horizon, but with relations going sour they may for once not have a say.
The image of Totti getting a standing ovation in the Santiago Bernabau against Real Madrid in the Champions League was a beautiful sight, but the Italian is in danger of losing his magic for the next generation of football fans. We all know him as one of the deadliest forwards in Serie A, but for those growing up now they will only see him as the old man who sat on the bench, not contributing to the team apart from some late cameos.
I do not want Francesco Totti to retire, as this would mark the end of an era for Italian football, but for the sake of his legacy, maybe it’s time to go. The way that Roma are establishing themselves as a young and fresh side, Totti just wouldn’t fit in to the current system. His retirement wouldn’t mean he would have to leave football as a whole. He could be a pundit, or even return to Roma as a director, similar to Pavel Nedved at Juventus. Who knows, he could even be the Roma manager one day…