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Totti Today #102: Fabulous Forty

What happens when you take gasoline out of a car? Or a battery out of a cellphone? Rip the heart out of a man? They simply stop working. Cease to exist. The same thing would happen with Roma if you'd take away Francesco. Even at the blessed age of 40.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Gasoline, batteries, a heart,... They all have the same thing in common: They provide life, hope, magic. They are the solution, the beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega. They go back to the essence, no questions asked. Totti is the gasoline, the battery, the heart and so much more of this Roma side. Even in the Winter of his career, he puts up displays like the one against Astra, Crotone or Torino. It almost reads like a neverending story. Almost.

Last week we celebrated the birthday of our Capitano, born in the Holy Football Year 1976 (others were Nesta, Kluivert, Ronaldo, Ballack and Van Nistelrooy). A total of 250 goals in Serie A and already 2 in 4 games this season plus a handful of assists. I'm not going to list all his goals, statistics or decorations, because it would take too long. I don't have to tell you how important he is and how valuable Totti has been for the club AS Roma (shirt sales, social media, sponsors) and its fan base. A symbol, a leader, a captain.

For years now we've been fearing the exit of Francesco in the giallorosso shirt. Every season could be his last. Surely he was going downhill and he couldn't repeat his form of 2001 or 2006. Said the critics. But time and time again Er Pupone proved them wrong. Fast forward until 2016 and we're here, in front of our screen, still hoping and waiting for that glorious Totti moment to happen and give Roma the three points. One magical through pass or  a perfectly taken penalty, it means a world of difference for AS Roma.

Better yet, last season, Spalletti had to rely on a 39-year-old Totti to drag them to the third spot and thus Champions League qualification.  Leave him out and we have a bunch of uninspired players who may be strong in the air, have great pace or are tall and well-build, but not quite reach the same heights as Totti did. He creates something special that affects the other players around him and even the entire stadium whenever he plays. It's infectious.

Okay, we have some talents in the waiting room and won't turn into a serie B side once he quits, but how many times did we depend on Il Bimbo d'Oro? I lost count. Losing him will have serious consequences nonetheless. Perhaps now he's even more influential than 10 years ago. Back then he played 30+ games and mostly until the final whistle, now he has to do it all in the space of a few minutes here and there as a sub.

Physically he looks in great shape right now and Luciano's smart enough not to overburden him. But there will come a day that he won't even make the bench to act as an ace up Luciano's sleeves. No, he will be in the stands, together with his family, the sight of a retired football player. And he will be sorely missed. The final chapter of the neverending story.

Ironically, Roma's strenght is also their weakness. Francesco Totti. Leave him out and the car stops running. The cellphone malfunctions. The man dies.