After a 28-year association with the club, an emotional Francesco Totti played his 786th and final match for Roma on Sunday evening.
Totti first pulled on his boots for the Giallorossi when he joined their youth setup as 13-year-old back in 1989, and worked his way through to the first team when he made his debut in March 1993. He would go on to become the symbol of his boyhood club, scoring 307 goals in 786 appearances in all competitions leading up to his farewell in the 3-2 Serie A win over Genoa.
“Over the past few months, I’ve asked myself why I’m being awoken from this dream,” said Totti as he took to the microphone with a letter in his hand at the end of his final appearance. “Imagine you’re a child having a good dream… and your mother wakes you up to go to school. You want to keep dreaming… you try to slip back into the dream but you never can.
“This time, it’s not a dream, but reality and I can no longer slip back in. I want to dedicate this to all of you. To the children of yesterday, who have grown up and become parents and to the children of today, who perhaps shout ‘Tottigol’. I’d like to think that for you, my career has become a fairytale for you to pass on. It’s really over now. I’m taking off that jersey for the final time.”
To mark the occasion of his last game, his side wore special shirts with a ‘Totti 10’ logo on their sleeves, accompanied with a quote which translates to ‘one team for a lifetime.’ Statues were displayed outside the Stadio Olimpico, a small aeroplane flew over the ground with a banner reading ‘Thank you captain,’ and Roman daily Il Tempo changed their moniker to read ‘Totti’s Time’.
Coach Luciano Spalletti remained as professional as ever, refusing to bow to public demand to play Totti from the start and instead bringing him on early in the second half. The 3-2 win, delivered courtesy of a stoppage time Diego Perotti goal, ensured the 40-year-old at least ended on a high note, and it also clinched Roma’s second-place finish, four points behind Juventus.
What the future holds for Totti remains to be seen. During his time with the Giallorossi he has won one league title and two Coppa Italia’s, but he has not confirmed he will hang his boots up just yet – merely that he has played his last game for ‘his’ club. There is also the possibility he will make a move upstairs, with director of football Monchi keen to make him his right-hand man.