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Francesco Totti: Why I’m a Roma Fan

He’s truly one of a kind, and he’s the sole reason millions of people fell in love with Roma.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Welcome to the refreshed Chiesa di Totti! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to do the same, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card {contest rules}* We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

From the storied, almost epochal, history of the city, to the beauty and splendor of the architecture, to the canonic works of art that call the city home, there are ample reasons to adore the people and the city of Rome. However, after you’ve had your fill of frescoes and tossed your three coins in the fountain, you’ll likely need something to satiate your competitive juices, and if you’ve got any sense or wits about you, that something would be an AS Roma match. There’s another team in Rome, but the less said about them the better.

If you’ve never been fortunate enough to take in a match at the Stadio Olimpico, chances are you’ve still been lured by the Giallorossi, and chances are you were wooed, seduced, and titillated by their iconic talisman, Francesco Totti, the man of many aliases—Il Bimbo d'Oro (The Golden Boy), Il Re di Roma (The King of Rome), Er Pupone (The Big Baby), and Il Gladiatore (The Gladiator).

No matter what you call him, you were bound to be impressed by the grace with which he strode upon a pitch and the precision with which he carved apart opposing defenses. With a subtle flick of his toes, a shimmy of his shoulders or a telling glimpse to one of his teammates, Totti could tear open a match with his playmaking, turning a dull affair into a masterclass in attacking football. And whether he was connecting on one of his thousands of backheels or slamming home one of his over 300 goals, you knew there was something special about the man with the cheeky grin, something that defied description and was beyond mere articulation.

The man with the flowing mane, the short socks and inconspicuously black boots wasn’t chiseled out of stone nor blessed with blinding speed, he didn’t unfurl a dizzying array of Ronaldo-esque stepovers, nor did he put on dribbling clinics for the masses, but you just knew he was different, that he was special. Totti was, to put it succinctly, ethereal—almost too perfect for this game.

If that weren’t enough to make you a rabid AS Roma fan, all you had to do was peel back a few layers of this man’s backstory and your simple crush became an all-consuming obsession. Born and bred in the city itself, Totti was every bit the fanatic as the 70,000 people who will witness his farewell this Sunday, worshiping the Tottis of his day, desperately hoping he could be the man to whom so many flocked, to be the new standard bearer for a city that has stood since time immemorial.

Totti’s unbending loyalty towards Roma was proven many times over during his storied career. When Real Madrid came calling some 12 years ago, throwing millions at Totti and promising to lift his name to even greater heights as part of their vaunted Galacticos squad, Totti had ample reason to shun the city of his birth. For as much as Totti loved Roma and Roma loved Totti right back, they club simply couldn’t give him everything he deserved and everything he needed to lift the club to greater heights.

Totti has toiled under 17 different managers in his 25 seasons with the club, seldom playing alongside a player of equal stature. Seldom, if ever, did Totti complain about Roma’s financial restraints, and seldom, if ever, did he openly question the well-being or direction of the club. His wasn’t a fate to be endured, it was a legacy to embrace, to love and to make his own. Being the face of AS Roma wasn’t just a job, it wasn’t just a privilege, it was his birthright.

Totti had every reason under the sun to head for greener pastures, but he didn’t, and that’s precisely what makes him so special. As Roma fans, you don’t really understand why it matters when actual Romans play for this squad, you just know that it does matter...a lot. And no other player before or since has encapsulated that spirit as fully, completely or as perfectly as Francesco Totti.

While the club couldn’t offer it’s fans a cast of stars and a procession of trophies, it had this one thing. This one thing that resonated beyond spreadsheets and profit margins, this one thing that could not be weighed, measured or purchased, this one thing that was beyond reproach and beyond the limits of language.

This one thing was Francesco Totti. This one thing is the reason you’re reading this. This one thing is the reason I’m a Roman fan and the reason you soon will be, too. This one thing was a point of pride, a badge of honor and symbol of affection, and this one thing has always allowed us to say...

We have Francesco Totti and you don’t.

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