Our near month-long rundown of the best Roma players of the past ten years has reached its conclusion, and you guessed it, we saved the best for last. Appearing on 98% of the ballots (why that's not 100% is beyond me), Francesco Totti is the final member of our Roma Team of the Decade, joining Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko among the forward ranks.
And you know what? Executive decision time. He's our player of the decade as well.
The 2010s were a tumultuous time for Francesco Totti, as he played for...let's see: two club owners, four club presidents, four sporting directors, eight different actual managers and ten managerial changes. He played with everyone from Marco Borriello to Luca Toni to Marquinhos to Gabriel Heinze to Jose Cholebas to Daniele De Rossi to Seydou Doumbia to Juan Iturbe to Simone Loria to Mauro Goicoechea to Alisson to Mirko Vucinic and even Michael Sheehan Bradley for crying out loud.
He played in the Stadio Olimpico, Stamford Bridge, Camp Nou, the Bernabeu, the Allianz Arena in Munich, the Allianz Stadium in Torino, the Stadio Radalescu in Cluj. He played in the San Siro, the Artemio Franchi, the Stadio Massimino, and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. Shit, he even played in Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
Totti scored double digit goals in the 2010s. Totti racked up double digit assists in the 2010s. He did both one season. He played as a false nine, a left-winger and a lone forward. He played 90 minutes. He played 9 minutes. He was hurt. He was healthy. He had long hair. He had short hair. He wore his all black boots. He wore white boots. He played for Wind. He played for Roma Cares.
He played under two managers who were his former teammates. He became the oldest player ever to score in the Champions League. He made his 600th league appearance and become only the second man in league history to score more than 250 goals.
He accomplished (or reached) all this in the 2010s, a decade he started off at 34-YEARS-OLD. Totti wasn't at his best during the 2010s, but he was arguably the best over 35-year-old attacking player the game has ever seen.
During the 2010s, Totti made 227 appearances, scored 68 goals and contributed at least 60 assists (totals varied between sources) in all competitions. Pretty remarkable when you consider his age and the fact that he was a bit player for the last 18 months of that stretch.
Notable Achievements: 2013 Double-Double at Age 36
Totti kicked off the decade with a 15 goal and 9 assist campaign for Claudio Ranieri during the 2010-2011 season, but for the sake of symmetry we'll go with his 12 goal, 12 assist performance during the 2012-2013 season, or, as you may remember it, Zemanlandia 2.0.
With the Bohemian back in the capital, Roma were back to their all attacking, all the time ways, eschewing the slow burn of Luis Enrique's failed Tiki-taka experiment the prior season. Under Enrique, Totti had a decent enough season (eight goals and six assists) but failed to crack double digit goals for the first time since 2001-2002.
Under Zeman, Totti was utilized as a wide forward, sitting to the left of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and opposite a young Erik Lamela. Totti's athleticism had waned by this point in his career, but this season was an exhibition in mind over matter, as Totti's mind was more dangerous and more effective than the youngest of legs.
For more on how truly extraordinary this season was for a player Totti's age, let's turn to a piece we wrote in May of 2013:
Totti totaled 12 goals and 12 assists, showing equal grace for scoring and creating, adding a unique balance to an already spectacular season. Weighing those numbers against Roma’s 71 league goals gives Totti a 34% share of the Roman offense-far and away the club leader in that respect. Rather than being a figurehead, Totti remains as integral to Roma’s plan of attack, both facilitating and finishing, as ever.
Furthermore, by reaching double digits in goals and assists, Totti placed himself in select company. Across Europe’s five major leagues, Totti was one of only 14 men to achieve this unique feat. Joining Totti in this club are such luminaries as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery. It takes a unique talent to master this alchemy of scoring and creating, and for Totti to do so at damn near 40-years old is, quite frankly, astonishing.
In addition to leading the club in assists, Er Pupone paced Roma in total passes, passes per game, key passes, accurate crosses, shots per game and fouls draw per game. Which is just a pragmatic and long winded way of saying Totti is as important to this club as ever, in nearly every facet of the game. But go ahead and read that list again, he lead the club in each of those categories-not tied, not second, but lead. At age 36.
League wide, his 12 goals was tied for sixth in Italy, while his 12 assists trailed only Marek Hamsik’s 14. His 3.6 shots per game placed him fifth in Serie A, while his 102 key passes led the league, and his 3.1 fouls drawn per match was good for fourth.
In some respects, this was Totti's final truly great season, but he was good enough for a combined 16 goals and 16 assists in league play over the next two years, which is even more remarkable when you consider he barely played 1,600 minutes in each of those seasons.
The great irony of any athletic career is that by the time your mind masters the sport your body fails you. In 2012-2013, Francesco Totti defied convention and came as close as humanly possible to perfecting the sport...at 36-years-old.
Where is He Now?
Last check he was vacationing in the Maldives. We were all rightly upset over his “retirement” but...uh...he's doing alright.
Francesco Totti was, is, and shall forever remain Roma. Decades don't define him, he defines the decades. The 2010s were a time of decline for Totti, but he raged against that dying light better than any player Roma has ever or will ever see.