ROME: Francesco Totti finally wrapped up his 24-year career as a Roma player with a timely substitute’s appearance that helped inspire a 3-2 win over Genoa on the last matchday of the Italian Serie A season.
Totti was 16 when he made his the first of 786 appearances as a substitute at Brescia in March 1993.
He joined the game in the 54th minute to help Roma finished second, four points behind champions Juventus, and one ahead of Napoli. Atalanta,
Lazio and Milan took the fourth, fifth and sixth places with troubled Internazionale seventh. Empoli, Palermo and Pescara were relegated.
Addressing the crowd from the centre of the Stadio Olimpico pitch after the final whistle, he said: “At some point in life, you grow up – that’s what I’ve been told and that’s what time has decided.
“Time has tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘You can no longer enjoy the smell of the grass, the sun on your face as you bear down on the opposition’s goal, the adrenaline consuming you, the joy of celebrating’.
“It’s not easy to turn out the light. I’m afraid. It’s not the same fear you feel when you’re standing in front of the goal, about to take a penalty.
“This time, I can’t see what the future looks like through the holes of the net. With your support, I will succeed in turning the page and throwing myself into a new adventure.
“Being the captain of this team has been an honour. I will no longer entertain you with my feet, but my heart will always be there with you.
“Now, I will go down the stairs and enter the dressing room that welcomed me as a child and that I now leave as a man.”
Totti made his debut at the age of 16, in a league match at Brescia on March 28, 1993. He went on to make 786 appearances in all competitions for Roma, scoring 307 goals, with 250 of those coming in Serie A.
He won the Scudetto once, under Fabio Capello’s stewardship in 2001, but found himself a runner-up with the Giallorossi on no fewer than nine occasions.