Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Roma’s Totti celebrates 20 goal-laden years in Serie A

AFP, MILAN, Italy

AS Roma’s Francesco Totti celebrates after scoring against SS Lazio in their Serie A match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on March 13, 2011.

Photo: Reuters

AS Roma captain Francesco Totti claims his long career in Italy’s top flight has “flown by” as he celebrated 20 goal-laden years of playing in Serie A on Thursday, but the Giallorossi icon, who last week scored his 226th league goal to move to second in Serie A’s all-time scoring charts behind Silvio Piola, says he is not ready to hang up his boots just yet.

“I want a new deal,” Totti told Gazzetta dello Sport, which in Thursday’s edition splashed its front cover with a huge photo of the Roma captain under the headline Tutto Totti (“Everything about Totti.”)

“Time has flown by because everything I’ve done, I’ve done it with passion,” he added.

Despite the relative lack of domestic glory — the Giallorossi have won only one scudetto in 2000-2001, in Totti’s incredible 20-year spell with the club, the 36-year-old will go down as one of Italian soccer’s greats.

After his parents rejected a lucrative offer from AC Milan, the man known variously as Il Bimbo d’Oro (The Golden Boy), Il Re di Roma (The King of Rome) and Il Gladiatore (The Gladiator) made his Roma debut on March 28, 1993, in a 2-0 win away to Brescia.

“You never forget your first time in a love story ... That day at the Stadio Rigamonti in March was a dream come true for me,” he told Roma’s Web site.

Totti’s reputation as one of Serie A’s deadliest goalscorers is perhaps boosted by the fact his feats came despite playing in several positions and in a team lacking the tools to challenge consistently for top honors.

Starting out as a striker, he was pushed out on to the left wing as part of a 4-3-3 formation by Zdenek Zeman in 1997-1998.

Zeman made Totti his captain and he replied by scoring 30 goals in the Czech’s two-year spell at the club.

When Fabio Capello arrived for the 2000-2001 season, he built his team around Totti, this time in a trequartista (attacking midfielder) role. Totti scored 13 goals that season as Roma won only their third scudetto.

Totti still trails Piola by 49 goals, but feels a more consistent position in his career would have taken him beyond that mark.

“If I had always played as a striker, I would have 300 goals by now,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, Totti’s talent and longevity — as well as his solid season so far — have not escaped the eye of Italy national coach Cesare Prandelli, who is said to be considering him for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year. Totti is keeping his options open.

“A lot can happen in a year, but if I’m going well then I will speak with Prandelli and together we’ll make a decision,” he said.

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