Francesco Totti: “I’d rather die than leave Roma”

Francesco Totti esulta
17 June at 17:15
Francesco Totti is still speaking on the TV that broadcasts his press conference, but the caustic, surgical and full of feeling words he has pronounced are already bouncing in my mind and head like in a flipper. “I’d rather die than leave AS Roma” he has said: it’s more than a love declaration, something completely different from the words we are used to listen from the football players of today. It seems to have jumped in the past, to a time when football was a simple thing, when football players were more reachable and less gods of the Olympus that today. The farewell press conference of Francesco Totti to his beloved AS Roma, after 30 years together, is a mixture of feelings, that goes from sadness to anger, passing through irony and sarcasm. But not hope.

There’s no hope in his words for a better future of the club and for the supporters, in a situation where the president James Pallotta is in the USA and has come to Rome the last time 13 months ago; where there is a shadow-manager in London, Franco Baldini, who works to empty AS Roma from every player born in Rome. “They want to eliminate the Romans from Roma” are the sour words pronounced by the legendary captain of the club who has even admitted to having been forced to stop playing football, two years ago, with the promise and the perspective to start a managerial career inside the club.

“I’ve never had the chance to express myself” Totti said about his new role. “They have never involved me in technical project” And what’s maybe more serious, Totti revealed that, after he left football, he has never had the chance to speak with Pallotta or Baldini: “Not a call or a text. Nothing”; even when he had met Antonio Conte (“many times”) to give him the opportunity to become the AS Roma new manager, in order to relaunch the ambitions of a club that “deserves to be on the top”.

Totti leaves AS Roma and the club remains, even after the farewell of Daniele De Rossi, deprived of his origins and identity. “Presidents pass, the flags remain” is what Francesco has declared, speaking about the symbols of a team around whom the supporters can find their belonging and identity.

In a football more and more deprived of all this feelings and values, Francesco Totti seemed to be the last pillar of a football building that is risking to collapse under its own unsustainable weight: because the football they are thinking is empty of its own essence: passion, belonging and identification.

I’ve said that in Totti’s words there is no hope. I was wrong. He has said that he’s ready to come back to AS Roma with a new ownership. Not a farewell, but an Arrivederci. Grazie Francesco.

Emanuele Giulianelli, @EmaGiulianelli
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