Where does Roma icon Totti rank among all-time Italian greats?
After three years within Roma’s youth set-up, in 1993 a fresh-faced 16-year-old Italian by the name of Francesco Totti was awarded his Serie A debut, going on to strike his first senior goal a year later against Foggia.
Last weekend, exactly 21 years and 16 days since that maiden goal, the once teenage prospect incredibly slotted home for the 300th time in his club career on the eve of his 39th birthday, another milestone for this King of Rome.
Totti helped the Giallorossi twice come from behind in their domestic encounter with Sassuolo to eventually earn a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Olimpico, with his first-half equaliser sealing 300 strikes for his club, who are 12/5 with Coral for Serie A success this season.
With over two decades of passionate commitment and loyalty in Rome, over the course of 745 appearances in imperial purple-red and golden yellow, Totti has cemented his position as a true great. Though where does he rank among other all-time heroes of Italian football?
Having scored in all 21 of his domestic campaigns in Italy, Totti is now the longest-serving and most prolific Roma player in history, with his latest finishing exploits lifting Rudi Garcia’s men to fourth, only four points behind leaders Inter Milan.
Despite Totti’s remarkable tally of 244 Serie A strikes, the Italian is still exactly 30 goals adrift of the all-time record set by Lazio legend Silvio Piola, a tally which seemingly looks beyond reach for the 38-year-old.
The stalwart Roma skipper’s achievements are incredible nevertheless, having enjoyed his career primarily from an attacking midfield role and being widely regarded as one of the greatest ever number 10s in both Italy and Europe.
A talented selection of names now below the Stadio Olimpico veteran in the all-time domestic list is a true testament to his talents in front of goal, and willingness to continue on into his late 30s, having netted substantially more than the likes of Antonio Di Natalie and Alessandro Del Piero.
Like Totti, both Di Natalie and Del Piero enjoyed huge success across many seasons for Udinese and Juventus respectively, though the latter opted to end his career abroad rather than hang up his boots upon departing Turin.
Trumping both these prolific marksmen, and many more, proves Totti’s instincts and desire have never faltered through two decades of leading the line for Roma during the heights of success and, also dragging them through the trenches when times were tough. Fittingly living up to his christened nickname of Il Gladiatore.
However, in the illustrious personal career of Totti, becoming the King of Rome following years of being their heroic, teenage prince, there are also glaring faults scattered among his list of past glories.
Totti’s own accolades for scoring and appearances are genuinely brilliant, but a trophy cabinet which features only one Serie A title from back in 2001, along with four cup medals, doesn’t justify his abilities and drive.
Whether or not Totti would swap his personal achievements for fellow iconic number 10 Del Piero’s silverware success, or that of Filippo Inzaghi during his time at both AC Milan and Juventus, is debatable, though his loyalty to Roma is admirable.
Totti is certainly one of the great clubmen in football, alongside national treasure Pablo Maldini at Milan, though converting performances onto the international stage is another flaw in his otherwise historic legacy.
Roma’s long-serving hero made 58 outings for the Azzurri over eight years, before officially retiring in 2007, with his stand-out showings coming in Euro 2000 and the 2006 World Cup victory. But his form was constantly indifferent under various coaches for Italy, who are 14/1 to win Euro 2016.
After 300 club goals, but just the single domestic piece of silverware to his name, Totti will look fondly over his career once those talismanic boots are proudly hung up, as he continues to cement his legacy as a true Italian great from his home in the capital.
Although, having finished runner-up in Italy’s top tier on eight occasions, including last season, Totti is running out of time to help capture a first league title in over a decade, but that could yet prove to be the final chapter in this King of Rome’s abiding tale.