Roma captain Francesco Totti has had a long and distinguished career, but few weeks could have quite matched the last seven days for “Er Pupone”. His list of accomplishments is endless. He is considered a God by the Roma tifosi having spent over 20 years at the club. Along with being their most capped player having played for the Azzurri 51 times, he has also donned the Giallorossi shirt over 560 times and is the top goal scorer in the club’s history, easily eclipsing that of runner-up Roberto Pruzzo. He has a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana winner’s medal, along with international awards at Under Under 18, 21, 23 and of course the 2006 World Cup winners medal, where he was named in the team of the tournament. The list of individual recognition awards is endless.
The chance of him having the opportunity to replicate the success of 2006 is now over. He has been left out of the provisional 30-man squad selected by Marcelo Lippi, a squad that includes seven forwards as it is, and one that still does not include Amauri, Mario Balotelli, Alesandro Del Piero, Antonio Cassano, Fabrizio Miccoli or Luca Toni. There has been recent speculation that Totti would be in the travelling party to South Africa this summer, and the man himself declared himself interested in playing for Italy again. This is even though he has not played at international level since that glorious final in Berlin, and then the subsequent international retirement and unsuccessful call-up from Roberto Donadoni.
Domestically, Totti has also been making headlines recently for the wrong reasons. Injury kept him out of a significant part of Roma’s amazing run to the top of Serie A, although a new low unfolded last Wednesday as he spectacularly fell off the disciplinary tight-rope. Disappointment at losing out to Inter in the Coppa Italia Final was compounded by his sending off for a frustrated, wreckless and retaliatory challenge on Balotelli.
Days later, while waiting for his inevitable ban for his subsequent red card, he led his team out to face Cagliari, needing a victory to maintain their challenge for the scudetto. As Roma stared a disappointing home draw in the face, the Roman hero stepped up. He looked threatening throughout before, on this occasion, his late show became stuff of legend, rather than a repeat of his final frustration. He equalised with a smart finish with 11 minutes remaining before he converted from the penalty spot to take all three points.
With one game left in the Serie A race, it remains to be seen whether Totti’s season will be remembered for better or for worse. Will the reigning image be of Er Pupone lifting the league championship for a second time, or of him trudging off the pitch following his Coppa Italia dismissal. Only time will tell, and Inter may also have something to say about it.