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Roma Decade in Review: Totti's Derby Double

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At 38-years-old, Francesco Totti turned in one of his best performances in a crucial derby.

Serie A - “AS Roma v Lazio Roma”

I have no earthly recollection what I was doing on New Years Day 2010, and most of the 3,623 ensuing days were lost in a haze of burritos, pizza, lattes, reruns of The Office and forgettable online dates, but jammed in-between all those meals, unrequited love and workplace hijinks were several hundred Roma matches, about 96 of which were 1-1 draws thanks to Rudi Garcia. I'm making that number up, but, man, remember all those Garcia Specials? How did we ever survive?

Point being, now that we're reaching the end of the decade it's only natural we look back and remember all of Roma's highs and lows. From the Manolas Miracle to the Alisson Sale to the new Nike Kits to the Coppa Italia loss to that Dzeko miss to Alessandro Florenzi embracing his nonna in the stands, it's been a busy ten years.

We're not going to recall them all, but over the next few weeks we're going to pick out a few moments and trends from the last decade. And since the dour moments tend to linger longer, let's kick off our Roma Decade in Review on a high note.

But first, a picture:

Serie A Standings after Round 17 of the 2014-2015 season.
Worldfootball.net

The Derby della Capitale is always a heated affair. Roma and Lazio could be mired in the middle of the table with no hope for improvement and still produce three red cards in the derby. As we so often say, the table is irrelevant when Roma and Lazio meet, but not on this day.

Midway through the 2014-2015 season, Rudi Garcia's second at the helm, Roma were riding high, sticking close to a Juventus side who finished 17 points ahead of them on the table the year before. While Roma didn't quite match their 10-0 start from the prior season, '14/'15 was off to a good start for Roma. Midway through the season, Roma sported league's fourth-highest scoring offense and the second best goal differential.

Things were already looking up for Roma, but Round 17 really, really went well for Garcia's men. After squeaking out a 1-0 win over Udinese in the afternoon, Roma were given a belated Christmas gift when Juventus dropped points to Inter Milan to end the round.

Which brings back to our original point. On January 11, 2015, Roma and Lazio squared off in another derby, one in which Roma were one point behind Juventus for the league lead. ONE FUCKING POINT! And if that wasn't enough, Juve had an incredibly tough road trip to Napoli.

Like I said, this was no ordinary derby. With so much at stake, it wasn't exactly a shock when Roma happened. The Giallorossi held Lazio in check for the first quarter-hour or so, but with two goals in a matter of minutes (Stefano Mauri in the 25th and Felipe Anderson in the 29th), Roma looked primed to waste a golden opportunity...again. They've nipped at the heels of the top of the table many times before only for disaster to strike in the most humiliating ways.

Things were looking pretty grim, but as they so often did during their darkest hours, Roma turned to their guiding light, their Bimbo d’Oro, their reason for being, Francesco Totti.

And as he so often did, Totti delivered...and how.

Francesco Totti: 48th Minute (Roma 1, Lazio 2)

Leave it to Francesco Totti to appreciate the moment. Down two goals in a derby, Lazio had every reason to park the bus and wait for Roma to frustrate themselves into oblivion, but rather than leaving things to the death, Totti made life uncomfortable for Lazio almost immediately after play resumed in the second half.

While this wasn't necessarily his most noteworthy goal, it was emblematic of Totti's innate understanding of timing and space. Had he jumped the gun a moment too soon, he would have been flagged offside, a moment too late and Kevin Strootman's killer cross would have gone wasted. But thanks to Totti's sense of timing and a beautiful pass from a young and healthy Strootman, the Roma come back was on.

Where this goal was just common sense (a good pass meets a good run), what came next was truly...truly...remarkable.

Francesco Totti: 64th Minute (Roma 2, Lazio 2)

This goal happened so long ago that the clips we posted in our review were from Vine...Vine!

Crazy how time flies, but here's what I wrote in that moment:

Totti’s first goal turned the Olimpico a collective 180 degrees, but we’ve certainly seen our share of short shrifted comebacks. Roma needed something else, something to push the crowd over the edge, something to make this derby memorable, and that’s precisely what they received.

You simply can’t make up shit like this, it would seem too implausible, too cliche. Totti scored a goal that men half his age would struggle to pull off. It’s not as if his legacy needs padding, but he just keeps defying all common sense and good reason. Players this age, players this important and this iconic simply shouldn’t be this good this late into their careers. Totti’s equalizer was just an exquisite example of tact, intelligence, execution, and yes, divine intervention.

Once again, marvel at how easily Totti was able to evade Lazio’s defense, slipping right in between Lorik Cana and Radu to get on the end of Cholebas’ cross. His run was so well-timed and so incisive that you barely noticed, but it was every bit as amazing as the finish.

I didn’t pay enough attention in physics class to remember how to calculate distances based on angles and trajectories, but it sure looks like Francesco hurled himself at least five feet to catch up with that cross, lifting his 38-year-old legs above his head to beat Marchetti on the far post.

Simply amazing. I don’t think we’ll ever truly appreciate what this man has done and continues to do.

And here we are nearly three years after he “retired” and I still don't think we appreciate how lucky we were to witness over two decades of Francesco Totti. While he was so much more than a goal scorer, Totti found the back of the net over 300 times in his career, giving goalkeepers fits with his array of cheeky lobs, thunderous strikes, back post runs and outrageous volleys.

Serie A - “AS Roma v Lazio Roma”

While I wouldn't be foolish enough to rank and classify all of his strikes, there was just something different about that goal. Because it came against Lazio, because it let Roma keep pace with Juventus (if only for a moment), because it defied our expectations of what a 38-year-old could do, and because it—in the blink of an eye—said everything and more about what Francesco Totti meant to us, that goal felt different, almost as if he was scoring it just for us.

I mean, just look at what it did to the people in the stands:

I've erased this sentence about a dozen times, but if there's one lesson I've learned in all my years writing about Roma, it's this: words have never, can never and will never be able to describe what Francesco Totti means to Roma fans. The best we can say, the best we've ever been able to say is this: We have Francesco Totti and you don't.

And never was that more important and more apparent than in the 64th minute on January 11, 2015.

Thank you, Francesco. For this and for so much more.