Francesco TOTTI

(Roma)

Looking around and seeing thousands of people who want to shake their hands with you, thousands who slap you on the back, thousands of eyes that wink at you.
Kisses, hugs, telecameras and journalists with note-books.
Fans who cheer on you and wait for another magic.
But you can’t slow down, you know that sudden difficulties are always in ambush and people are always ready to turn their back on you.
They don’t care if you are still young, maybe too young to become the new “King”.
They confuse your irritability with immaturity and, once again, they start wondering: “Is Francesco Totti really ready to play with the national team?”.
They have been waiting for him to emerge as a champion since he was just 5 years old and even if he is one of the few players who make us dream and prove to be worth the price of the ticket, it’s still hard for him to free himself from the consequences of a youth, constantly spent between his Roma’s and the national team’s expectations.
Totti is the new idol of this Roma that dreams of living again the glorious days of Falcao and Bruno Conti, symbol of a Capital perennially midway between Europe and Rugantino.
Adored by the fans, cuddled by his parents Fiorella and Lorenzo, pushed by popular acclaim to Cesare Maldini’s national team, Totti is now happy, rich and famous.
However he keeps on saying “I grew up too quickly”, and, maybe to cherish his roots, he still lives in his old house of Vetulonia, where still a very blond child with an impertinent face he began to play and became a champion.
So you are not “pupone” anymore?
“No, please don’t nickname me that way anymore.
I’m not old but I’m not a child either.
I’m 21 and I have been maturing very quickly.

"I have been playing in Serie A for 5 years”.You were born at Porta Metronia (Roma), like .
..like Lazio’s owner Sergio Cragnotti.
It’s a derby inside the derby and we both are loved in our neighbourhood.
Maybe they love me a little more, because there are more Roma’s fans over there”.
How did your life in Rome change after becoming so popular?
“I feel very well, I have a great and frank relation with my fans, and that’s perfect both for my temper and for their expectations.
Sometimes we even go out together for dinner”.
Rome is a city with many temptations. Do you ever go to dance?“Sometimes, especially Sunday night.
It’s a necessary moment of relax for me, otherwise my privacy would be almost inexistent.
There are so many things that people of my age do and I can’t do because of my profession”.
Is it not difficult to find a moment of privacy and relax, when everybody around you asks for autographs and photos?
“That’s part of my job. However I usually go where I have friends and people that already know me very well.
So they don’t stifle me”.
Roberto Mancini claims that accomplishing something in Rome it’s very hard.
The crowd is too passionate and emotional, and depending on results they suddenly turn you from a champion to a second-rate player.
“Everybody knows that Rome is kind of complicated and things can change very quickly.
However I’m hardened to it”.
Did you keep your serenity even after the loss against Lazio the first day of last November?
“That was a tough moment.
I have always been a Roma’s fan, and such a defeat was hard to digest.
Especially because that was the first game in which we weren’t able to express our talent after many good games.
We were probably too tense.
I can’t find other explanations”.
You are right, your start, this year, was really surprising.
Did you expect such a beginning both for Roma and for yourself?
“I knew we were competitive and we had a very competent coach, however a so striking start surprised me too.
Now I have more responsabilities and people have more expectations.
However I feel ready to match all these demands and I am very serene about that”.
Without getting a swollen head.
“Sure, I’m not that kind of person.
I want to keep my balance, and my seriousness”.
Where did you start playing football?
“I began to play at the age of 5, with a team called Fortitudo, very close to my home.
Later, I played for Smit Trastevere, and finally with Lodigiani (third team of Rome).
I stayed there for 3 seasons before moving to the juvenile team of Roma (at the age of 12) where I won a couple of important titles. ( An Italy Cup with the Primavera team, and an Italian national title with the Allievi team)”.
You made you debut with the major team when you were still a teen-ager.
Did you have the opportunity to study and make the same experiences of people of your age, in spite of your profession?
“I had to mature very quickly, and football gave me great satisfaction.
However I can’t do many things that my friends are used to doing.
I’m always on the road, and far from home.
For these reasons my old friends are very important to me.
Now it’s hard to make new friends, friends you can really trust.
I don’t want to hang out with people who are just interested in my success and notoriety.
About my studies, I have a Diploma from the Commercial School.
It was tough to get, but I have always considered it as an important goal to achieve”.
How much support did you get from your family?“They really made many sacrifices to help me and I owe them a big part of my success.
Even just washing my football uniform for years and taking me to the field has been an huge help.
They taught me important principles like uprightness, honesty and humility.
Principles that too many peolple, today, ignore.
I’m really happy that now I can repay them”.
Parents usually want their children to study before thinking about football.
“At first they wanted me to study either, however after being called by the major team at the age of 15, things changed and football became a real profession for me”.
Giannini was an idol for you, and now you are considered his heir.
“Giannini was a great champion, who played as many as 15 years for Roma.
Now it’s my turn and I’m expected to honour that number 10 the same way.
Sometimes we talk by the telephone and he always congratulates and spurs me.
It’s a sort of brother for me.
If only everybody were like him!!!”Why? Do you feel jealousy and envy around you?
“Not among my teammates, but I know that when someone is successful, those bad feelings begin to surround him very quickly and I don’t think to be an exception”.
Do you think you are the new Roma’s leader and symbol?
“I hope to become that someday but right now I still have too many teammates much more experienced than me.
It’s too early to say that I’m the new “King of Rome”.Would you make the same choice of Signori in order to play?
I mean, would you leave Roma, as he left Lazio, if you had hard time in keeping your starting role?
“I love Roma and I would suffer very much, but I can’t stay without playing.
I don’t expect to play every match, but I expect to play if I deserve it”.Is it true that last year you wanted the number 10?
“No. I wanted the number 20, the first number that I had with Mazzone.
Carlos Bianchi, however, claimed that the number 17 would be luckier because even the Argentine top-scorer of the season used to wear that number.
So I had to listen to him.
He had the power and so the final word”.
How was you relation with Bianchi?
“He was a very nice person, however he couldn’t materialize his projects and ideas.
He didn’t develop a very strong relation with me and the other Roman players because he didn’t like some of our attitudes.
He was kind of touchy”.
Why do you think he failed?
“The Italian championship is the hardest one.
It’s not easy to impose new ideas and mentalities just like that.
Failure is always in ambush.
Who must be blamed?
Half and half. Both him and us”.
You didn’t like to play as a central forward.
“As I said I just want to play.
However that position and those moves didn’t fit me very well”.
Let’s talk about Mazzone: a very important person in your life.
“Sure. Along with my parents he is the one I owe my success the most.
I was just 16 and he helped me to grow up, to mature.
He pushed me to open my eyes and to be careful to people around me”.
What about his football beliefs?
“He is definitely a traditionalist.
He focuses on a few basic points: adapting the team strategy to the opponent’s characteristics, guts and good technique”.
After a stint with Liedholm and Sella, and a very bad season, Zeman came and many predicted hard times for you, however They said that because he is well-known for his very tough trainings.
However I approached Zeman with the right attitude and with some curiosity, and I found a very nice, polite person.
His trainings are tough but now we can take advantage of their results”.Many claims that Zeman deeply changed after leaving Lazio.
Do you know why?
“I have no idea but I agree.
When I watched him on tv he looked always to be serious, hard, almost touchy and he rudely addressed his reprimands to his players.
Now he is different.
He smiles and makes jokes.
He suddenly changed but I don’t know why.
Maybe Roma’s atmosphere is better than the Lazio’s one”.
He also changed you.
You are now physically leaner and more willing to sacrifice yourself.
“I played as an inside-forward with Mazzone, then as a central forward with Bianchi, and now as a left wing with Zeman.
Playing the Zeman’s system means double work.
Offense and defense.
You must always run and cover the field, even when you don’t have the ball.
It took many trainings to learn all the right positions and moves and at first we were a little worried.
However we are now persuaded that his ideas really work”.
Would you accept to sacifice your offensive skills to help your team defensively?“Sure. I just would say to the coach that probably I couldn’t give my best by playing such a position”.People nicknamed you “Tottinho”.
A new Brazilian talent for Roma.
“I like that nickname but I feel deeply Roman.
I have some characteristics that remind the Brazilian style.
The soft touch and some moves.
However what really matters is not myself but Roma.
In addition I don’t understand why people keep on saying that Zeman doesn’t like the players with my characteristics.
Coaches always want to have talents playing for them”.
Do you feel ready for the national team?
“To be honest I don’t think it’s my turn yet.
I’m still young and I have many great players ahead of me.
However I know that if I keep on improving, sooner or later, I’ll be called”.
Maldini knows you since you played in his Under 21 national team, but now, he still looks undecided.“I heard that he could utilize me as a left wing, the same position I play with Roma.
Actually Maldini’s system is different from Zeman’s one but I’m sure that I could conform myself pretty quickly”.

Why are talents like you, Baggio, Mancini and Zola rarer and rarer?
“More and more coaches tend to stress other aspects of the game right now.
Since when you are still a child they began to emphasize athleticism and strategies.
However I still believe that some players can resolve games through their own unique creativity”.How much does the Bosman-Law affect the upbringing of young players?
“Very much because many Clubs tend to acquire foreign players, and many of our youngsters can’t find room enough to emerge.
I think that this is going to be a problem also for the national team”.
Why do you still live with your parents?
“Because I just feel great with them.
One day I’ll get married and I’ll move somwherelse but right now they are still very important for me”.
Money, notoriety...
“Well but I do my job pretty well.
Then money is important but if I play it’s especially because of my passion for it.
Neither for money nor to show off”.What about your political opinions?
What do you choose between consumerism and spirituality?

“I’d better not to talk about politics.
What I can say is that I really believe in God.
If only I look around and I see how many people of my age just struggle without a job, I realize how happy I am and I try to do my best to deserve such a fortune”.
What will you do after quitting football.
“I still don’t know.
For now I just want to focus on the next 10-15 years of football that I still have to play”.
What if you had to play against your teammate Konsel a crucial game of the World Cup and he was able to prevent you from scoring the decisive goal?“I don’t know what to say, I think that a few players can score against him.
I just would shake his hand and I would congratulate with him for his saves”.

THE PRINCE OF PORTA METRONIA
His mother Fiorella claims that at the age of 10 months he already used to dribble on the beach.
Francesco Totti was born for football the 27th of September of 1976.
He still lives with his parents in Via Vetulonia ( in the neighbourhood of Appio-Latino).
At the age of 5, with his brazen face and a shirt bigger than him, Francesco began to play with Fortitudo.
Later he spent 2 seasons with Smit Trastevere before Lodigiani discovered this blond talent able to play by both his feet with the greatest ease.
At the age of 12 he began to play for Roma, that got the upper hand of Lazio, since Francesco was already a yellow and red fan.
He wanted to emulate his idol Giannini and Trigoria became his second home.
There he was called to play for the first time with the Under 14 national team.
He was still a teen-ager when Boskov decided to aggregate him to the major team and he was just 16 years old when he made his first appearance in Serie A, surprising everybody for his sang-froid.
It was the 23th of March 1993 in Brescia.
Meanwhile he made his debut both with the Under 18 and later with the Under 21 of Cesare Maldini.
“Pupone” (as he was nicknamed) scored immediately a goal during his first game against Bulgaria, proving once again his brazenness.
However the real turning point for Totti was Mazzone who let him play the first Derby of his life against Lazio and who helped him to mature slowly but consistently.
He prevented Francesco from burning out and began to line up him with more continuity only during the 1994-95 season.
And Totti repaid his coach step after step, through his goals, his Brazilian feet, and his creativity.
He recalls the early Mancini, quick and tough.
In February 1996 he was called by Sacchi for a special training with the major national team and shortafter he led Maldini’s Under 21 to overcome France and win the European Championship.
Last year Roma’s coach Carlos Bianchi wanted him to play as a central forward and Francesco started missing Mazzone.
The new position didn’t fit him and Totti was even excluded from the new Giampaglia’s Under 21.
However Francesco swallowed the bitter pill and quickly recovered his place with the national team.
After Bianchi was fired, Liedholm and Sella led Roma to end a very disappointing year.
Now it’s Zeman’s turn and many predicted a difficult season for Totti.
The rest of the story it’s a current event.

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