Francesco Totti is one of European football’s most universally popular figures.
The AS Roma legend has enjoyed a fantastic career but, at the age of 40, he’s finally retiring at the end of this season.
"There is an agreement with the club that this will be his last year," Roma’s new sporting director Monchi revealed, per BBC Sport, last week. "Then he will continue as a director. I want him on my side because he is Roma and can teach me what Roma is.”
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Following Monchi’s announcement, tributes from football fans across the world poured in via social media.
And ahead of Roma’s Serie A clash against AC Milan at the San Siro on Sunday, Totti’s name received a loud cheer from both the home and away supporters as it was read out.
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Video: Totti's name cheered by Milan fans
Totti failed to get off the bench
This was Totti’s final visit to the historic San Siro as a player - but he failed to get off the substitutes bench because of his manager, Luciano Spalletti.
When Roma took a 3-1 lead in the 78th minute, it appeared to be the ideal opportunity to allow Totti the send-off he richly deserved from the San Siro crowd.
But instead of sending on Totti in the 84th minute, Spalletti subbed on Bruno Perez for Edin Dzeko instead - and that was all three of his substitutions used.
Twitter blasts Spalletti
Roma went on to score another goal before full-time, justifying Spalletti’s decision from an unemotional point of view, but Twitter was left fuming with the experienced Italian coach.
Spaletti angry with the reaction
Spalletti, however, was incensed by the reaction to his decision not to deploy Totti.
“All this really disappoints me. If I could go back, I would never have returned to Roma,” Spalletti told Mediaset Premium, per the Daily Mail.
“We always end up talking about the same thing. This team deserves praise, but instead we are always talking about this and if I play him for just five minutes, I'm disrespecting a legend, then if I don't introduce him, that's wrong too.
“Tonight we set a record for six consecutive away victories. We've done great things, even if we haven't always played brilliantly, but these statistics will remain.”
Totti will surely have a send-off at the Stadio Olimpico
Totti now has three matches left of his professional career and the Roma fans will surely have the opportunity to pay tribute to their legendary No. 10 against Genoa back at the Stadio Olimpico on May 28.
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