Quality one-club footballers are something of a rarity these days; they are an endangered species. Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs and Xavi Hernandez are recent examples, but with football becoming more of a business than a sport with multi-million pound transfer fees and excessive wage demands we are likely to see less and less of these men. Francesco Totti is a further example of the creatures that must be preserved. 

On 28th March 1993, Rome was taken by storm as a 16-year-old Francesco Totti entered the field against Brescia. 20 years on, he has won numerous competitions with Roma, including Serie A (2001), Supercoppa Italiana (2001/2007) and Coppa Italia (2007/2008). 

However, this isn’t a patch on his impressive list of personal awards including Serie A top scorer (2007), Italian Footballer of the Year (2000/2001/2003/2004/2007) and of course the 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star team, where Totti was part of the Italy team that won the prestigious tournament.

One of the most surprising facts is that he has never won the Ballon d’Or award; the closest he came to doing so was when he came 5th in 2001. This doesn’t do credit to him, and as one of football’s greats he has notched up an impressive 226 goals in 524 Roma appearances, giving him a goals-to-games ratio of 0.43, leading some of Europe’s most prolific strikers; Fernando Torres (0.4), Hulk (0.37) and Kevin Gamiero (0.39).

Totti is simply one of those once-in-a-lifetime players that other members of the modern game can learn a lot from. Whilst he may now not be what he once was, he has still impressed this season with 11 goals in 27 games. His contract runs out next summer and he is keen to seal a new deal. According to The Globe and Mail, he said: “I hope (it is just a formality)… Roma president (James) Pallotta arrives next week and we will talk about it directly. But I’m happy the club is showing confidence in me.”

A 50-metre banner was also unveiled as he walked onto the pitch on Thursday, with the date of his debut and the words: “And it doesn’t finish here. The best is yet to come.”  

One thing is for certain; even if Totti leaves Roma at the end of his contract, to play elsewhere or even become a coach; football will miss one of the most loyal players of the modern game. Football fans respect him across the world, no matter what club they support, and there is good reason for this.

Thank you Francesco Totti for 20 years of loyal service, both to your club and to the game as a whole! 

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