While I like to think I have a certain way with words, there has always been one subject that made me feel woefully incompetent: describing what Francesco Totti means to me. Nearly every broad-stroked article I ever wrote about him was an exercise in frustration, and whatever nuance or emotion came out in those pieces was preceded by numerous edits and constant pounding of the backspace key.
It took a few years, and one gigantic piece, to come to a realization: Francesco Totti, due to his origin story and his statistics, is really beyond comparison. Sure, more talented men have played the game, but has any player in any sport ever meant as much to their fans as Totti? Has any player's identity been so inextricably intertwined with the history of the club, the fans and the city itself?
I don't think so, but that lack of precedent is exactly what made Totti so loved, so special and so unique. And today, Totti took that uniqueness to an entirely different level, completely eviscerating his former club (fuck, that sounds weird) in his resignation press conference.
We hit upon all the key points this morning, but it goes without saying; Totti did not hold back, blasting Roma for not only their treatment of him but criticizing their entire operation. For Totti fans, it was a sight to behold and an incredibly cathartic moment.
For the club, not so much, and it didn't take long for Roma to respond.
Official statement from AS Roma: Francesco Totti— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 17, 2019
➡️ https://t.co/SmLpy7Qfrv pic.twitter.com/R0AuYfSCOx
Roma released their official response to Totti's press conference several hours later, and it is precisely as measured and as canned as you'd expect. All except for one bit.
The club is extremely disappointed to learn that Francesco Totti has announced that he has decided to leave the club and not take up the position of Technical Director of AS Roma. We offered this role to him after Monchi’s exit, for which we were awaiting his answer.
We believed that the role offered to Francesco is one of the most senior positions at the club and obviously requires total dedication and commitment, something that is expected of all senior managers within the club.
We were prepared to be patient with Francesco and help him achieve the transition from being a great footballer into a great manager. To demonstrate this commitment to Francesco, the role of Technical Director was offered to him – a role that we believed he could grow into and one in which we offered to support him in while he adapts.
While we understand how hard it must be for him to take this decision to leave AS Roma after 30 years, we believe that his perception of the facts and decisions made at the club are both fanciful and far from reality.
Fanciful and far from reality? Wow. That's passive aggression in it's finest form. Kudos to the PR rep who crafted that line.
The release also addressed the future of Pallotta's ownership group, while also sort of chastising Totti for even broaching the subject of selling the club.
Regarding the repeated references to a possible comeback with a new ownership, combined with information about interested parties collected by him around the world, we hope that this was not meant to be an inappropriate anticipation of a takeover attempt of the club, a scenario that would be very sensitive as AS Roma is a listed company. The club’s investor group have absolutely no intention of putting AS Roma up for sale, now or in the future.
We wish Francesco only good luck with what he decides to do next.
I cannot tell you how much I wish this all came down on a Sunday; having to be at work when the craziest Roma-related story we've ever heard was like your friends seeing Bigfoot while you were trapped at the dentist.
Viewing this from several thousand miles away, there is no way to discern who is actually telling the truth, but look at our URL, you know which way I'm leaning.
But you have to ask yourself, who do you trust more: The man who dedicated 30 years of his life to Roma or the man who has spent about 30 minutes in Roma? In the battle of the interloper vs the icon, go with the man who has made the real investment.
Francesco Totti is Roma because Francesco Totti understands Roma; it's a relationship decades in the making, born of sacrifice, dedication and devotion.
You can't define it, you can't replicate it, and you damn sure can't erase it, job titles be damned.