The interview on the pages of Corsera with the former Giallorossi captain: “The number 10s have disappeared, that role has become extinct. I miss everything about football. And I would return to Roma with a definitive role”
Francis Totti talks about himself. From the relationship with his ex-wife Ilary Blasi, through that with Luciano Spalletti, Mancini’s national team and the disappearance of the number 10s from the football pitches, here are the words of the former Giallorossi captain to Walter Veltroni, in the interview which appeared today on Corriere della Sera.
With Ilary Blasi “We spent twenty years together, with many very beautiful moments. Now I would just like us to find a balance between us capable of protecting the kids who are the greatest reason, for both of us, for love. I know it’s not easy, but what there is ‘It was between us, for many years, it was important. If the two of us find this balance, the kids will be fine and will feel protected”, explains the Captain.
Chapter Luciano Spalletti, a conflictual relationship during the coach’s time at Roma, but “if I met him I would greet him with affection, I would be happy. I believe there is a deep bond between us”. Also because, explains Totti, “what we went through together, when he arrived from Udine, is for me, in my life, something unrepeatable. Both on the pitch and in everyday life. I went out once or twice a week with him for dinner. Luciano was a pleasant, funny, sincere person. In the final phase our relationship was conditioned from the outside, especially by the company’s managers or consultants, and we no longer understood each other. I too made mistakes, God forbid. I believe that both of us, if we went back, we would no longer enter into conflict.”
Knowing Spalletti, “who is one of the best coaches, if not the best in Italy, I knew he would make a turning point” for the national team, he continues. “The team knows how to be on the pitch, you can see that they are playing more freely, that they are having fun. The results will come, it is however a difficult phase for Italian football. I only hope that we will be able to qualify for the European Championships and the World Cup. Eight years without taking part in the The world championships were tough for those who love football.”
For Totti, Roberto Mancini going to Saudi Arabia “he made the wrong timing and methods. It’s his decision and it must be respected. Then go and understand the internal dynamics between him and the Federation”. “The difference between our twenty years and these is all in the money. But after all, if you are not a fan of the team whose shirt you wear, what should stop you from accepting the best offer? It’s football without feelings, with players always with suitcase in hand. Everything is cold, they wear headphones instead of talking to each other in the locker room.”
“When we arrived at the derby fifteen days before, we thought about what we had to do: the shirts to show if you won, the most elegant way to overcome a defeat. And the Lazio players did the same. For me and for Nesta, who were friends, it was an opportunity for the same teasing that was circulating in the city. This climate created an adrenaline rush inside you… When you took to the pitch, you wanted to rock the world. Now what do they care about the derby…”.
And speaking of coaches, “when he arrived Lippi you stood at attention. I had a special relationship with him. He took me by the hand to the World Cup.” “When he came to the clinic, after the accident that could have compromised my participation, I didn’t believe it, he shocked me. And then he followed me, he came to Trigoria, he called. He is the one who gave me the strength and the opportunity to experience one of the two most important days of my life as a footballer: the 2006 World Cup”. While the other important moment was “the 2001 championship. We were a fantastic team and the city went crazy. Unforgettable days.”
In his career, he explains further, “he errors they are needed. They make you grow, they help you stop doing them again. I blame myself for spitting at Poulsen which, despite the television images, didn’t happen for me.” “I can’t imagine having spat at a person, it’s the most absurd thing and furthest from my way of understanding football and life “, He says.
And speaking of errors, on the case of players who bet “I don’t want to make moralistic judgments. But there are rules, such as not playing football matches, and those must always be respected. I would add that the younger kids must be protected and we must stay close to them so that they don’t ruin themselves.”
Captain e number 10but the number 10s, Totti further explains, “have disappeared because now it’s a different football. It’s another vision, another way of playing. Now physique prevails over technique. In the time when I played they were always there, in every team in Italy or abroad, one or two players of the highest level. There were one or two potential number tens. Together they made the number twenty. We may have been lucky, but football was better.”
Has everything changed with Sacchi? “You see, the ten was a different player from the other ten. He was someone who had to run less but exploit every opportunity of talent: an assist, a volley, a difficult dribble. He had to be lucid, always fresh. This is why the ten came back less. Sacchi led everyone to fall back into defence. And this made the technical space disappear for the ten considered as the fulcrum of the team, the element of surprise. Football has become more organised, but less surprising.”
Did they ask you to come back? “No. The only one was Zeman, who played a Sacchi-style game. With his 4-3-3 it was expected that I would return. Luckily on that flank there were Candela and Di Francesco who also ran for me.” How important are the wingmen of the number ten? “For me, the team members are more important than the number ten. In the ninety minutes they are decisive. Without one there would be no other. Think of Platini without Bonini, Rivera without Lodetti. Team leader is a beautiful word, not only in cycling or in football. We are all followers of something or someone in life.”
Do you see a number ten in world football today? “No, it no longer exists. That role has become extinct. And in fact I can’t find a team that excites me. But you remember Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, the Inter of the treble.” What are the qualities he must have? “Technique, obviously. But above all, head speed. If you understand things before the others, if you see the movements of your teammates, if you touch the ball less than necessary, you’ve already done your job, as number ten I would say that this is the characteristic: seeing first and doing first. I was lucky because I had Perrotta, Delvecchio, Di Francesco who knew and understood how I played and, in turn, they knew where I would put the ball. They knew it before, too. them. If one has talent, that is, anticipates the normal, the whole team runs faster”.
And to Totti of soccer “everything is missing. The retreat, the locker room, the t-shirt, the massage room. Bullshit? No, they were my life”. “I miss the bar and the coffee with my teammates, the bus trip from Trigoria to the stadium. I miss the routine that has made my life for decades. When it was over the days were empty. Afterwards I felt alone But that’s okay. Something I liked was coming to an end, which was my life. But I didn’t think it would hurt so much to stop that planned life, that passion that in my mind I could continue to live. I didn’t accept the separation from soccer”.
After all, explains the former Giallorossi captain, “I spent thirty years in the Rome. I showed respect to everyone and gave up other jobs without making it count. I said no to Real Madrid and others because I wanted that shirt, only that yellow-red shirt that is printed inside me. The way my story with Roma ended, yes, I was sorry. The truth is that when you are no longer needed in football there is no longer any respect. If Maldini, Del Piero, Baggio, I are out of football it will mean something, right?”.
Mourinho said he wanted you in Roma. You would like? “Of course, with a defined role, I would like it, for the reasons I said before. And I would like it with Mourinho, he is number one, I respect him a lot. I regret not having been coached by him in my career. But not I want to go back to it. I don’t want to ask. At Roma they know that if they need me, for serious things, I’m happy to lend a hand. Otherwise, friends as before.”