If this is really it, if we’re heading into the final 168 hours of Francesco Totti’s footballing career, one that spanned a quarter of a century with Roma, expect the plaudits to rain down from every corner of the footballing globe. While we can and should expect his former teammates and adversaries to send their congratulations to Totti for 25 years well played, I’m not sure anyone saw this coming.
"The lifetime enemies say goodbye to Francesco Totti".— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) May 21, 2017
Lazio's hardest fans (very hard) pic.twitter.com/v9szC8OIdR
A @Totti— Francesca Brienza (@Brienzina) May 21, 2017
I tifosi della Lazio!! pic.twitter.com/5AvvHr628e
That banner, unfurled during the still ongoing Lazio-Inter match is presumably a grudging sign of respect from Totti’s most ardent haters, Lazio fans, and it’s the latest in the line of opposition fans recognizing and appreciating all that Totti has achieved and contributed to Italian football. We saw it a few weeks ago at the San Siro and yesterday at the Bentegodi, and had this whole charade been handled better, we would have seen it all season long.
All told, Totti has squared off with his city rivals 44 times while scoring 11 goals, while drawing 13 yellow cards, the most against any one opponent in his storied career, which is quite fitting.
So while it was unexpected, good on the Lazio fans for paying tribute to Totti, however begrudging it may have been.
It’s going to be a rough week, but expect a lot of Totti stories to help you cope.