Photo credit: Beyond The Pitch.
Francesco Totti scored his first Serie A goal twenty years ago today in 1994 for AS Roma versus Foggia. If you were a punter back then, what would have been the Serie A betting - William Hill that Totti would still be scoring goals for his hometown club in 2014? No doubt you would be a rich man or woman given Totti's twenty-year marathon of goals.
An Italian journalist, Massimo Cecchini, took a long look back at the fabulous career of the Roma icon in an article on 4 September 2014 at La Gazzetta dello Sport. Let's examine his excellent commentary:
"Let's admit it. Looking back back with the eyes of the present, that 1994 seems like a confusing yet marvelously vital year. Perhaps for this reason today, twenty years ago, when a not even 18-year-old lad named Francesco Totti scored his first goal as a professional goal, many had the impression that a new chapter of football would have accompanied us for a long time.
A through ball by Thern, headed on by Fonseca and a blonde-haired player wearing the number nine shirt beat Mancini, the Foggia keeper (who would later pass away tragically). It was in the 30th minute of the first half. Enough that because a small jewel would contribute to illuminate a year in which the Festival of Cannes would award 'Pulp Fiction' of Quentin Tarantino, the Oscar went to 'Schindler's List' by Steven Spielberg and at last the peace between Israel and Palestine, with the Nobel Prize given to Arafat, Peres and Rabin, seemed to be hand-delivered."
Only Silvio Piola Lies in Wait
"From that 4th of September goal in Serie A for Totti, 235 would follow, and the only one better than he in an Italian league is Silvio Piola on 290 goals. And that's not all. In Serie A, only three players have scored in the span of 20 years: Piola (23 years), Paolo Maldini (21 years) and Pietro Ferraris (20 years), respectively. Because for his 20th year, Del Piero celebrated it in Australia.
How Totti Celebrated
"If in some way everyone became excited by that first goal, perhaps nobody can beat the heart-felt emotion of Totti after that first goal versus Foggia which arrived a year and one half after his Serie A debut. And Francesco described it this way:
'At home, in my bedroom, I had imagined a thousand times how it would be to score my first goal. With my brother Riccardo, we had studied a type of wrestling celebration which was fashionable in that time. Then, however, as soon as I saw the ball in the net, I didn't understand anything except my joy and I forgot what I had planned to do. How do I celebrate? I went out with Riccardo who bought me an ice cream.' "
"In the current era of tweets and pictures on Instagram that go around the world in an almost compulsive way, it's almost an ancient type of sentimentality for a footballer (Totti) who has always been very private with his feelings. With difficulty, however, we are able to share the table of his most beautiful goals:
'The most spectacular was perhaps the one I scored on a volley versus Sampdoria in 2006. Then the spoon-kick against Julio Cesar in 2005 and finally the one scored against Peruzzi in the Roman derby in 2002.' "
As he approaches 40 years of age
"For that what matters, we agree, but the beauty of the Roma captain is that he prefers not to look back too much to glorify his past. Just like twenty years ago with Carlo Mazzone, the manager of Roma, surely said:
'Francesco is a phenomenon,' and on the cusp of 38 years of age, that lad has not changed his skin.
'I look ahead. I have a contract until I reach 40 and want to do it as a protagonist. Surely, I have to manage myself with intelligence but I always say that the best is yet to come and I believe it.'
On 'the best' in question there is little to be mistaken. A World Cup placed in the showcase (he won it in 2006), at least another Italian Scudetto, but above all, the UEFA Champions League. 'Winning the Champions League has always been my greatest dream,' he has said so many times. And after 20 intense years such as these, to quit dreaming right now, at the end, would truly be a pity."
--- Massimo Cecchini
Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator. You can follow Steve @worldfootballcm on Twitter.
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