The Chiesa di Totti, as you may have guessed, was named in honor of Francesco Totti: our idol, our patron saint and our very reason for following football. Without him, there is no us and I suspect no you. While his effortless grace and mastery on the pitch drew you in, his tenacity, selflessness and unyielding loyalty to the club brought you back, year after year. Through all the managerial changes, all the shifting roles and all the second place finishes, you came back. For while Roma never had the riches, the glory or the history of other clubs, they had this one thing, this one thing that no one could touch, no one could purchase and no one could even conceptualize, they had Francesco Totti.
So, let's take a moment and wish Il Capitano many more happy returns on his 39th birthday. His role with the club has never been more uncertain, but Totti proved last season that he remains among the league's most effective forwards, so let's hope that Rudi Garcia realizes that before it's too late.
To celebrate Totti's birthday and our own self-indulgence, here are a few of our best Totti-theme pieces throughout the years.
This was our first ever Totti-specific headline, one that is sure to take the wind out of your sails eight years later. Totti, then at the apex of his powers (as a goal scorer at least) was surrounded by a cast of intelligent and in their prime players like Mexes, Cristian Chivu, Mancini, David Pizarro, Simone Perrotta and even Doni, while the likes of Daniele De Rossi, Mirko Vucinic, Alberto Aquilani and even Stefano Okaka were reasons for further optimism. Hindsight tells us that were it not for Inter Milan's torrid run through the middle Aughts, Roma might have added to their three Scudettos, so while it wasn't quite a dynasty, that was arguably the best post-Scudetto cast Totti ever played with.
I had to dig deep into our archives on this one, but back in '07 Chris ran a March Madness style tournament, based solely on hairstyles. Take a look, there's some questionable style choices in there, it was the tail end of the boy band era after all.
A quick look back at Totti's 2006-2007 Golden Boot campaign, one which was almost stolen by my man Ruud Van Nistelrooy. With 32 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, Totti turned in one of the finest seasons in the history of Italian football, which was good enough to place him 10th in that year's Ballon d'Or voting. Yes, Totti was deemed less worthy of that honor than Robinho and barely edged out some guy named Frederic Kanoute for 10th place to begin with.
We dug this one out for one reason and one reason alone, it features a video of a school-age Totti scoring against Alessandro Nesta in youth league game. You'll have to click the actual YouTube link within the embedded video, but little Totti is number eight; quite a find.
While this one appears to have answered itself, it remains among my favorite pieces I've written during my time here. At the time I wrote it, I honestly thought he had a shot, and now, facing the prospect of even fewer minutes, those 30 some odd goals standing between Totti and history seems a bridge too far, but if history has proven anything, it's to never doubt Totti.
After last season, we took a deeper look at exactly what sort of player a 38-year-old Francesco Totti was; in a word, he was the world's most lethal part time player, a sentiment apparently lost on Rudi Garcia through the first month of the season.
Otherwise known as the selfie game, last January Totti's brace rescued Roma from a humiliating 2-0 defeat to Lazio. Although he's scored 300 goals for this club, you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive one than the equalizer in that match where Totti flew several feet through the air to get on the end of that cross. It's somewhat fitting of the club's recent form, but lately, Totti's milestone goals have come in draws rather than victories, but bailing out Roma is second nature to Totti; it's just what he does, what he's always done.
Another one of my favorites, wherein I attempted to Americanize Francesco Totti, desperately seeking his closest American analog—try as I might, I couldn't find an exact replica of Totti, but Tim Duncan came awfully close. Two superstars who have, for the most part, shunned the limelight and remained faithful to the club that raised them.
It's in the back of all our minds, and earlier this month we posed a series of questions about Totti's impending retirement, whenever that day should come. If Roma were to win it all this year with Totti in a greatly reduced role, would it mean as much? Would it change your opinion of the club? And for that matter, what will you once he's gone?
Francesco's 39th year on earth is shaping up to be one of the more interesting ones in his professional career; his love for the game and his teammates has not wavered, but can he abide by such a small role?
We'll leave it at that for now, but feel free to dig through our archives, there's plenty more Totti to be found there, that's for sure.