Francesco Totti and Luciano Spalletti are on speaking terms again over six years after their feud that overshadowed both of their departures from Roma.
Totti and Spalletti recently reconvened to distribute gifts to a children’s hospital in Rome, marking the first time they have purposely met up since 2017, when they had fallen out over how frequently (or infrequently) the coach was using the captain.
Some who sided with Totti blamed Spalletti for not using him enough and effectively forcing the forward into retirement; those who saw the other side of the story bemoaned the circumstances that made the position of the manager who had just achieved Roma’s best ever points tally in Serie A untenable.
In reality, the truth was somewhere in the middle, with neither party being fully right or wrong. What cannot be denied is that at the peak of their powers, they were two of the best Roma have ever had in their respective roles.
Totti and Spalletti, of course, first worked together in happier times between 2005 and 2009, winning three trophies together, before the coach returned midway through the 2015-16 season. It was Spalletti who originally turned Totti into more of a goalscorer, so much so that Il Capitano won the European Golden Shoe in 2006-07. And even in the more turbulent second spell they shared at Roma, there were some highs on the pitch from Totti.
By the end of Totti’s career, Spalletti was the coach under whom he had scored more of his goals than anyone else.
Here are 10 of Totti’s best goals for Roma scored when Spalletti was the tactician on the touchline.
10. vs Lecce (November 2008)
Totti’s ability to catch goalkeepers out with dinked finishes was one of his trademark techniques. He used it well during Spalletti’s last full season in charge first time around to complete a 3-0 win over Lecce. Played through by Matteo Brighi, Totti delicately lifted the ball over the keeper in cool fashion.
9. vs Torino (April 2016)
Spalletti’s return to the Roma dugout in January 2016 was soon followed by some serious disagreements with Totti, who fought back in the only way he could – contributing on the pitch, even if his opportunities were minimal. One of his most famous performances was when Spalletti threw him on as a late substitute against Torino towards the end of the season, when Roma were losing. Totti infamously scored with his first touch to equalise – the goal being referred to here, showcasing some unexpected flexibility for a 39-year-old – before unbelievably winning it with a penalty.
8. vs Parma (March 2008)
Parma were the club that Totti scored the most goals against out of any opponent – and a club that Spalletti never lost to with Roma. On this occasion in the second half of Spalletti’s final season in charge (of spell one), Totti was set up by a Mauro Esposito backheel. He swung a first-time shot across goal from the edge of the box and the ball nestled beyond the reach of the Parma goalkeeper.
7. vs Ascoli (October 2006)
On the edge of the box, Totti was a danger to opponents, especially when allowed the time to really hurt them. Thus, a common tactic would be for a teammate to roll the ball to him from a free kick, so he could take aim with a first-time shot. It worked to fine effect against Ascoli in the 2006-07 season, as Totti’s shot stunned the goalkeeper, rippling the upper part of the middle of the net.
6. vs Genoa (May 2016)
A couple of weeks after his dramatic exploits against Torino, Totti replicated a type of goal he had scored time and again earlier in his Roma career. From a free kick on the edge of the box, Daniele De Rossi – the other survivor from Spalletti’s first spell – rolled the ball to the side for Totti to blast into the far corner. It was another equaliser that preceded a late winner, though this time the next goal was by someone else (Stephan El Shaarawy). Furthermore, it was the last non-penalty goal of Totti’s career.
5. vs Kosice (August 2009)
The end was nigh for Spalletti in the early weeks of the 2009-10 season amid some off-field issues at the club, but he still stuck around long enough to witness Totti’s hat-trick against Kosice in the Europa League. The last goal of Totti’s treble saw him chest down the ball before finishing from the edge of the box as it dropped. It was his last goal of Spalletti’s first spell at Roma before being replaced by Claudio Ranieri.
4. vs Palermo (May 2007)
A masterful free-kick taker in addition to his ability in open play, Totti scored from several set pieces in his time and was an obvious choice for Spalletti to deploy over dead balls. One of his best free-kick goals was from a considerable distance against Palermo in 2006-07. Swerving the ball around the wall, effectively with the outside of his boot, he caught the opposition off guard and set Roma on their way to a 2-1 win that ensured a runners-up finish in Serie A.
3. vs Shakhtar (September 2006)
Totti’s first goal of his highest-scoring season (under Spalletti or anyone else) also happened to be one of his best Champions League goals. After assisting Rodrigo Taddei for the opening goal in a 4-0 win, the favour was returned. On the turn, Totti rifled a shot with his left foot into the top corner, with the ball satisfyingly clipping the underside of the netting as it flew under the crossbar and over the line.
2. vs Sampdoria (November 2006)
The highlight of Totti’s European Golden Shoe season was a goal that even had the opposition support applauding. Having already opened the scoring in Genova, Totti put the icing on the cake with a sublime left-footed volley from a ridiculous angle to make it 4-1. Later in the season, he haunted Sampdoria again with another great goal (a left-footer from the edge of the box that just missed out on a place in this top 10), but it was this volley that has lived longest in the memory.
1. vs Inter (October 2005)
An absolutely iconic goal, Totti’s strike against Inter at San Siro in Spalletti’s first season in charge showcased virtually everything good about him. Carrying the ball from the halfway line with determination, Totti then showed the awareness to spot opposing keeper Julio Cesar off his line – and the technical ability to punish him for it with a precise lob. It is often regarded as the best goal he scored, not just under Spalletti but ever.