Since the age of 12, Francesco Totti has been a part of the A.S. Roma football set up and is now about to play his 24th professional season with AS Roma, the only club he has ever played for. With his contract set to expire at the conclusion of the 2015/16 season, this might be the last time we see Totti play, as he will be turning 39 on September this year. He joins a group of a select few, whose names & lives have become almost synonymous with their clubs, a group that includes Steven Gerrard, Paolo Maldini and Alessando del Piero.
His team’s accolades are sparse in comparison to his individual ones, having won five trophies (and runners up 16 times across all competitions) with Roma and the 2006 World Cup. At an individual level, he has been named in the FIFA 100 by Pele, five times Italian and two times Serie A Player of the Year as well as featuring in the Euro and World Cup team of the tournaments. He has won the Golden Foot (for overall outstanding athletic performance), the European Golden Shoe and has been named in the all-time UEFA U-21 European Dream team. Along with that, his loyalty, style and ability to influence the game have earned him a large fan-base across the world. His loyalty towards Roma is so strong, former manager Luciano Spalletti (manager from 2005-09) said of him:
It would be easier to move the Colosseum out of Rome”
A team player through & through, he has shifted across various positions throughout his career; as a winger, lone striker or a second striker to accommodate other players in the team. Currently, he has been used as a false 9 under boss Rudi Garcia. If we do not count his first two seasons as a professional player, no season exists where he has not been one of the most valuable contributors to AS Roma.
In what might be his last season as a footballer, and with the acquisition of players for the front line such as Edin Dzeko, Iago Falque and Mohammed Salah, along with Gervinho, Mattia Destro and Adem Ljajić in the squad, there might not be place for Totti in every game to lead them forward.
So how will the King of Rome fit in for the 2015/16 season?
Currently, the biggest obstacle for Totti is his ageing body. He cannot play the entire ninety minutes every match. His body simply cannot handle that stress, which is understandable and also natural. However, the plus side of his age is his vast experience and years of accumulated skills.
His natural passing ability, his instincts on when to finish as a striker, his durability in the most physical of matches and his ball control make him an ideal super sub. The aforementioned attacking players acquired by Roma will no doubt be selected ahead of him. However, in the final 30-35 minutes of a game, Garcia has the liberty of replacing Totti for one of them (or maybe even a defensive player, if needed). He will act as the super sub of Roma.
With his skill, he can lead Roma’s attacks in the final minutes of the game, and with 30-35 minutes left on the clock, he would have much more energy, and at a level that his body can sustain. Another major positive factor is his threat from set pieces. He loves to play the long ball, and with the speed of some of their new acquisitions, this will make Roma a deadly threat on the break. With his killer instinct as a striker, he will be more than willing to take a shot at goal from distance or cut in for a short-range effort.
Thus, he offers an all-round attacking threat, even if it’s for a third of the match. He will still make worthy contributions in both goals and assists, and should easily cross the 300-goal mark for A.S. Roma and maybe cross the 190-assists mark as well!
A team player in the end, it would be hard to imagine Totti not happy with his current role as he knows his limitations as well. Whatever be the case, it might be the final season of a legendary footballer, one who has consistently shown his loyalty towards his childhood club.
It’s been rightly said: “No Totti, No Party.”