Pallotta: “There will never be another Totti.”


Roma president James Pallotta published a letter today in praise of Francesco Totti, who will play his final match for the Giallorossi tomorrow. Here are his words:

“On Sunday, it will be a privilege to be at the Stadio Olimpico, along with 70,000 other fans, to witness the ending of the first volume of a storied career.

Nobody in the world needs me to explain what Totti means to AS Roma or the city of Rome. In fact, when we first looked at investing in Roma and started our due diligence, two things stuck out immediately: Francesco Totti and the club’s incredible fan base.

Whomever I spoke to, whether it was a taxi driver, a waiter, or just a fan I met when walking the streets, each Roman’s adulation for Totti was immediately apparent.

To them, he wasn’t just the greatest striker Italy has ever produced. They told me they saw themselves in him. He was a true Roman, a fan who represented them on the pitch.

They taught me, from day one, that Francesco Totti wasn’t just a great player – he was and is the symbol of Rome.

I’m a massive sports fan. I’ve been a sports fan since I was a kid growing up in the North End of Boston, two blocks from the Boston Garden.

I’ve had my heroes. We all have.

I was very young when the legendary Bill Russell was breaking records with the Celtics. Back then, he was like a god to me and my friends. He played for the Celtics for 13 years.

I wasn’t born when he made his debut but I was 11 when he played his last game. Then came a succession of other great players: Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird. A long, long list.

I thought 13 years with one team was a lifetime but many of the fans at the Olimpico on Sunday will have been watching Francesco for 25; a quarter of a century.

Incredible. Hard to fathom.

Since becoming president of AS Roma, I’ve had the privilege of not just watching Francesco play but also spending time with him away from the action.

He may be this god of football when he pulls on his boots and leads us onto the pitch, but the Francesco I’ve gotten to know is down to earth, humble, and a wonderful human being.

I remember one time when I was at the Etihad Stadium to watch Roma play Manchester City and I was talking to some of the home team’s fans in the hotel before the game.

They couldn’t believe that Francesco was still playing for us – in fact, they were amazed that he would be starting and leading our attack that night.

I wish I’d bumped into them afterwards – after he’d scored the equaliser and written himself into the history books as the oldest to ever score in a Champions League game.

That was in 2014.

Back then, I don’t even think I would have believed that two years later he’d still be influential and scoring incredible goals.

What he did last year, towards the end of the season, was a Hollywood ending. In fact, his whole career has been like that. My only regret is that I wasn’t around earlier with Roma to enjoy Francesco Totti for the first 20 years.

I only have the films of hundreds of magical moments, but that can never compare to being there.

On Sunday, I’ll be there to witness his final game as a Roma player. It’s the end of one chapter of Francesco’s life and the beginning of a new one.

I’m sure more than a few tears will be shed, both on the pitch and in the stands, but Sunday should be a celebration of what has been one of the most incredible legends in the history of all sports.

Relish this moment.”

Sing and cheer and cry and remember.

This is a once in a lifetime moment for you.

The Editor of RomaPress.us, John has been covering Italian football as a freelance journalist for over 10 years and has appeared in various publications including ASRoma.com, EuroFantasyLeague.com, and ESPN.