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Preparing to Say Farewell to Francesco Totti

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The dark day—Francesco Totti’s retirement—has not yet come, but we must prepare our souls.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

People ask me, why spend your whole life in Rome?

Rome is my family, my friends, the people that I love. Rome is the sea, the mountains, the monuments. Rome, of course, is the Romans.

Rome is the yellow and red.

Rome, to me, is the world.

This club, this city, has been my life

I sat down to write this piece you’re currently reading about a week ago, as sort of a preamble to our year-long goodbye to Francesco Totti; the first feeble attempt to surmise what Francesco Totti means to the club and the people of Rome. And in this first attempt, I already find myself humbled, frustrated and bewildered. How in the hell can you pay this man justice? How can simple prose describe all that Totti has meant to the city of Rome?

Well, as it turns out, the answer was simple, just do what the club does: wait for Totti to bail you out.

And there it is, in a mere 55 words, Totti effortlessly and eloquently described what makes him, his career and his relationship with his city so special, so romantic and so unique. Totti treats this club, his role and his place within its history, with such reverence that you can’t help but respond in kind.

But how do you prepare to say goodbye to something or someone you love? Whether it’s coping with a breakup, putting a pet down, or simply dropping of your child for their first day of college, dealing with loss is part of the human experience. It’s depressing, gut wrenching and it lingers, for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years, coming to define our very existence.

Despite this desperate picture, loss is not without its benefits. The manner in which one deals with it and the lessons you glean from it come to define you, and if you’re lucky, you emerge a stronger, more intuitive person. Once the veil of pretense has been removed, the capricious nature of our world becomes evident, and in this seemingly bleak picture lays the true gift: appreciation and insight. Appreciation for all that has come before and insight into what really matters to you, and the child of this marriage is calmness and serenity; no longer do the simple ebbs and flows of daily existence shake you to the very core.

So what does this string of pretentious sentences have to do with Francesco Totti? Simple, it’s time to say goodbye. Nine months from now, Francesco Totti—the living embodiment of all that is AS Roma—will stride upon the pitch for the last time.

But how on earth do we prepare for that, let alone actually do it? How can we parse all our memories and all of our emotions into a cogent retrospective or appreciation for Totti’s career? How can we do the man that brought so many of us to the club in the first place proper justice?

I don’t have an answer for this, and given the unprecedented nature of his career, I’m not sure there is one, but what I can promise is that we at the Chiesa di Totti will cover this farewell tour as extensively as possible, taking every opportunity to show our gratitude to Totti.

So in the coming weeks and months, expect a lot of Totti coverage. Retrospectives on his career, the highs and the lows, and piddling attempts to articulate our appreciation to Totti for bringing Roma into our lives.

Francesco Totti will never play in the Stadio della Roma, but make no mistake it is the House That Totti Built; James Pallotta may have paid for it, but without Totti’s love and loyalty to Roma, it wouldn’t exist. So when you talk about all of Roma’s grand ambitions, be sure to recognize the fact that none of them would be possible—in execution or even thought—were it not for Totti’s unparalleled excellence and undying loyalty to his club, his city and his home.

Totti isn’t gone yet, but the Roma that we know and love—the Roma that Totti knows and loves—wouldn’t exist without his excellence, without his loyalty or without his humility.

So, throughout this season, we will attempt the impossible; putting all of that into perspective.

Wish us luck, we’ll need it.