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Marking Francesco Totti's 23 Years on the Pitch

Twenty three years (and a day) ago a pimply faced teenager named Francesco Totti made his debut for Roma. 23 years later, and the kid can still play. We offer a brief tribute to our patron saint.

Holde Schneider/Getty Images

Since we're the Chiesa di Totti, we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize the anniversary of our patron saints professional debut. On March 27, 1993 (we missed it by a day, blame it on Jesus) a 16-year-old Francesco Totti made his debut against Brescia, the first of 750+ appearances (all comps) Totti would make for his one and only club. That's 23 years for the mathematically challenged. 1993, let that sink in for a moment. Some of you probably weren't even born yet, much less conceived, some of you may have been graduating college or, if you were like me, you were enduring yet another Pearl Jam vs Nirvana middle school cafeteria debate.

Either way, 23 years is a hell of a long time to do anything, much less play professional football. What's even more remarkable about Totti's 2.3 repeating decades of football is how consistently amazing he's been during that time. Out of those 23 years, Totti has been one of the world's ten to fifteen best players for at least 15 seasons, while he's rewritten the script for post 35 success.

While Totti's pursuit of Silvio Piola's scoring record will ultimately fall flat, Totti already has more appearances than any attacking outfield player in the history of the league and is, by any objective measure (bias alert, but not really), the best Italian to ever play the game. Totti has been the facilitator, the conduit and the finisher in his career, bending and shaping his role to the whims of his manager and abilities of his teammates.

Totti's career is wholly unique, not just in football or Serie A, but in all of sports. Not many athletes have managed to simultaneously burn out and fade away. To sustain that sort of excellence for 20 years is nothing short of remarkable, yet his skills haven't yet blunted to the point of irrelevance; he's simply been a victim of circumstance this season.

He's neither at his peak nor completely over the hill, which makes our current quagmire all the more frustrating. There will come a time when the internet scribes will have to pen a eulogy for his career, but for the meantime, while we still have him, be sure to relish every touch, every flick, every switch of play and every thumb sucking celebration.

Players like him don't come around very often, and while we've had the pleasure of watching him for over two decades, we may not be able to say this much longer...We have Francesco Totti and you don't.