Francesco Totti: What’s in a name

Francesco Totti is more than just a name. Those two words mean so much, to so many, all across the globe. Those words have impacted so many people’s lives, directly or indirectly, and have become a part of the identity of countless others.

That name, that person, that legend, was also built up by several other factors. Influential people, locations and memories all played their part in the shaping of one of Italian football’s greatest names. Lots of things made Totti who he is. These are the main factors which contributed to his legend, one for each letter of his name.

F is for Foggia

The team against whom he scored his first professional goal. At the age of just 17, Totti rewarded the faith shown in him by those at the club with the opening goal in a 1-1 draw. He struck the ball with his left foot, sending it into the back of the net with power and accuracy. It was a pattern that would become familiar, as he went on to score 306 more times for the club.

R is for Rome

The city of his birth, of the team he represented for his entire career, and the place he refused to leave. Totti’s upbringing in Rome had a major impact on his life and the decisions he would make as a footballer. Born and raised in the heart of Rome, he came to love his city and those around him. The influence of Roman culture on his upbringing cannot be overstated.

A is for Azzurri

Totti represented the Italian national team 58 times, an international career which culminated in winning the 2006 World Cup. He was an integral part of that world-conquering side, playing in all the matches and being named in the team of the tournament after providing more assists than anybody else. He scored a total of nine goals across his spell with the Azzurri, creating many more for his teammates.

N is for Nike

The maker of his boots for the majority of his career. Totti’s affiliation with Nike began in 2002, and his symbiotic relationship with the brand continues to this day, beyond his retirement. The company famously produced a limited edition gold boot for him for the end of his career, to celebrate 25 years of him playing for Roma. Footwear fit for a king.

C is for Capitano

The word ‘capitano’ is just a regular Italian word, but when mentioned in the same breath as Roma, you immediately know who the subject is. Totti wore the Roma armband for nearly 20 years, having become captain in 1998. Roma have had their fair share of iconic leaders over the years, but Totti once again took it to the next level, being Roma’s symbol and flag bearer for most of his career.

E is for Edwin van der Sar

The goalkeeper that Totti famously beat from the penalty spot with a panenka in Euro 2000. The semi-final between Netherlands and Italy had finished 0-0 after extra time, with the finalist to be decided by a tense penalty shootout. On the fifth penalty, Dutch keeper Van der Sar was left helpless as Totti delicately chipped the ball down the middle of his goal. Three spot kicks later, Italy booked their place in the final. Even in a situation of intense pressure, Totti could pull off the spectacular.

S is for Selfie

When Totti scored the equaliser for Roma in the January 2015 Derby Della Capitale, his second goal of the game, he equalled Dino Da Costa’s record of scoring 11 goals against Lazio. To mark the occasion, Totti took an infamous selfie in front of the Curva Sud, celebrating the goal with his own people. It became one of the most iconic images in recent sporting memory, and showed that he’s even in touch with the modern era despite his increasing age.

C is for Cristian

Totti’s eldest son, born 6th November 2005. Cristian is also a budding footballer, although his father is keen to divert attention and pressure away from him. Totti Jr. is playing in the Roma youth ranks, and many fans will be looking forward to the day he might possibly follow in his father’s footsteps by representing the first team. Unlike his father, Cristian can already speak English, at the age of just 12. C is also for Chanel, Totti’s first daughter, born in May 2007.

O is for Olimpico

The location of many of his finest moments. A lot of things changed throughout Totti’s career – coaches, teammates, sponsors – but the Stadio Olimpico always remained his home. A stadium he frequented as a boy, he would later hear his own name chanted from its stands. This ground is where he belongs, a second home to him.

T is for Torino

Totti has some fond memories of playing against Torino. On 20th April 2016, he wrote one of the greatest chapters of his story against them. At a time when many people thought he was down and out, Totti proved he still had what it took to be a winner by turning this game on its head. Torino were winning 2-1 when Totti came on in the 86th minute. By the 89th minute, Roma were winning 3-2, and Totti had scored both goals. Even in the latest stages of his career, he was still a game-changer. Coincidentally, he scored against Torino again just a few months later in the new season, with what turned out to be his last ever goal in Serie A.

O is for One Club Man

Make no mistake, Francesco Totti had the ability to play for any club in world football. This is a man who was nominated for the Ballon D’Or five times while playing for a club who don’t have the same reputation as the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Manchester United. Imagine the accolades he could have won if he had gone on to play elsewhere. Instead, Totti chose to stay loyal to one jersey. In an era where most players chase money or trophies, he remained true to himself and his people for all his career.

T is for Trequartista

Totti played in a range of positions throughout his career, but arguably the one where he was most at home was as a trequartista, or attacking midfielder. It was in this number 10 role that he played in Roma’s 2000-01 Serie A winning season, a position from which he could create goals and score them himself. He also played as a left winger or a false nine at different points in his career, but his football was at its most enjoyable level when he was playing in behind the striker, given the freedom to orchestrate play.

T is for Ten

The number he wore on his back for so many years. Since squad numbers became compulsory in Serie A, Roma have only had three number tens – Giuseppe Giannini, Daniel Fonseca, and Totti. Having worn the shirt for 20 of his 25 years with Roma, the number has become synonymous with his name. While the number hasn’t been retired by the club – at Totti’s own request – it’s hard to imagine a player who could inherit it in the future and go on to do it justice in the way Totti did for all those years.

I is for Ilary

Totti married Ilary Blasi in June 2005. Something of a celebrity couple in Italy, their relationship has brought three children – Cristian, Chanel, and another ‘I’, Isabel, born 2016. Family has been the centre of Totti’s life away from the pitch and Ilary has always been there to support him. Through the many highs and lows, Totti’s family has always been by his side – one of many factors that have made him the man he is today.

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