Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
ROME

Soccer: Totti keeps Italy door open on 20th anniversary

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, March 28 - AS Roma captain Francesco Totti
said he felt like a 20-year-old on Thursday, the 20th
anniversary of his Serie A debut, and kept the door open to a
return to the Italian national team for next year's World Cup in
Brazil.
"I thank everyone, friends and non-friends," the former
Italy forward said in a video message to his many well-wishers
released via ANSA's website (www.ansa.it).
"Today I really feel like a 20-year-old. I have 20 years
behind me and I've got another 20 ahead of me," quipped the 2006
World Cup-winner.
"It's a wonderful day. I'll carry it with me for a long
time. I feel 20, still young. I'm grateful to everyone. It's
always nice to hear certain comments.
"I don't know what I have ahead of me. I hope it's a rosy
future".
The one-club man said that it could be "taken for granted"
that his future would be with Roma.
The 36-year-old is in splendid form despite being in the
latter stages of his career.
He became Serie A's second-highest scorer when he notched
his 226th league goal in Roma's 2-0 win over Parma this month,
one goal more than Sweden's Gunnar Nordahl, who played for AC
Milan and Roma in the 1950s.
It was his 11th league goal of the season, although that
tally only partially reflects the contribution of a player who
is a playmaker as well as a striker.
The only person ahead of him now is Silvio Piola, who
scored 274 goals for Pro Vercelli, Lazio, Juventus and Novara
between 1929 and 1954.
Totti celebrated the anniversary at Roma's training
complex, where his teammates cheered as they tossed him up in
the air and a huge banner was unfurled telling him 'the best is
yet to come'.
He said he will talk to Italy boss Cesare Prandelli about
playing at the 2014 World Cup if he is still in excellent form
next year.
"I'm going through an excellent spell, and if I'm still in
good shape up until the World Cup, I'll talk to Prandelli and
we'll take a decision together," he told Sky television.
Prandelli said last week that he will be forced to call up
Totti if he keeps playing so well, even though he will be close
to 38 by the time of the next World Cup.
The Roma captain took a break from international football
after he helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup.
He went on to retire completely from the national team
without returning.
He said at the time that his body was not up to the demands
of regularly playing for both club and country, but he has
occasionally hinted he would be willing to come out of
retirement for a big tournament.
In an interview published in Thursday's La Gazzetta dello
Sport, Totti said he did have some reservations about being part
of Italy's World Cup squad if the Azzurri qualify.
"I know that the World Cup is the utmost (in soccer),
especially in Brazil, where soccer is everything," he said. "But
if things were to go badly, I know who they'd take it out on.
They'd say: they've taken an old man who ruined the squad".
In the Gazzetta interview, Totti made some interesting
reflections on his career.
He said the only player that has done things on the field
that he does not think he himself is capable of is Barcelona's
Lionel Messi.
He said the best opponent he has ever faced is Ronaldo and
that the finest teammate he has ever played alongside is
Argentine Gabriel Batistuta, with whom he won the 2001 Serie A
title.
But he added that the player with whom he had the best
understanding on the field was Antonio Cassano.
The coach he most respects is Italy's 2006 World
Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi.
He talked about gays in soccer too, saying he had never met
any homosexual players and that he did not think the game in
Italy or anywhere else was ready for them to come out.
"It's extremely sad, but that's how it is," he said.
He added that he lost his virginity at 12 and that he hopes
his seven-year-old son Cristian does not follow him into
football.
"If he's good, I'll be happy, but I hope not," he said.
"Having the Totti surname will be an obsession. I hope he
becomes a tennis player, I'll be his manager".

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