Roma legend Totti is not finished yet

Terms such as ‘club legend’ and ‘all-time great’ are in truth banded about all too often in football, when in truth there are very players who can command such high players. Yet in Francesco Totti Roma possess the very definition of a club hero, a player who is not out of place sitting alongside the great Paolo Maldini when it comes to the finest and most influential players in Serie A.

Like Maldini, Totti has been very much a one club man – his career with Roma started way back in 1992 and given the contract extension he signed recently his is far from finished yet. What makes these players so special is that it is not just one generation in which they have been top quality performers but through but several, just think how much has changed in the game and how many dominant sides has been and gone in Serie A during Totti’s career. If you were looking for an English comparisons to the longevity of Totti then Ryan Giggs would be your man, with the Manchester United man being part of numerous rebuilding jobs by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Roma captain’s stats are enough alone to highlight his shear brilliance – the strikers current tally of 228 Italian league strikes remarkably sits him second in the all-time list, for a player who for a large proportion of his career has occupied in more of an attacking midfield role that is a quite remarkable record. That said, such is his brilliance that he is just as effective when being deployed as an out and out striker.

Even in his mid-30s there has been no let-up in the level of his outstanding performances – as recently as last season he could boast a return of both a dozen goals and a dozen assists. With the exception of 2011-12, Totti has reached double figures in all but one of the last 11 years. The stats though don’t quite tell the story of just what an exceptional player that Totti truly is, for few players can inspire a side and take a game by the horns in the manner that he can.

Unquestionably the greatest player to ever put on a Roma shirt, Totti has brought his beloved club some of their greatest memories. In a similar way to Steven Gerrard at Liverpool he has not had the luxury of playing for one of the very top clubs, yet it is quite clear that he would not have it any other way. Unlike Gerrard though, he has at least experienced a title success, which came in 2001. Further to that he has also picked up two Coppa Italia’s and guided his side to second place in Serie A on six different occasions – in several of these cases hauling the yellow-reds almost singlehandedly to such lofty heights.

Perhaps the only blemish on his CV is that he has achieved just 56 caps for his country – unquestionable a disappointing return for such a talent. Although in those limited caps he has won the holy grail of international football, helping the Auzzuri to a World Cup in 2006. In truth this was in part his own doing given he retired for four years on the back of that success in Germany, although he reversed that decision in 2010. Despite that and the fact he has been one of the strongest Italian creative forces in Serie A in recent years he has failed to be selected for the national side. The door might not be closed just yet of course, with Cesare Prandeli indicating in March that he still has a possible role to play and a swansong showing in Brazil would be a perfect end to his Italy days.

Totti is one of those rare breads of footballer a generation spanning one club man, who is truly committed to his clubs cause and in a modern era where these players are becoming fewer and farer between we can only celebrate this. Just as we have to celebrate that for another four years at least, one of the all-time greats of the modern game will be continuing to grace our screens with his inspirational performances.