“The captain of Rome would have little to talk with Einstein, but unconsciousness gives his game the touch of madness and genius of the great football idiots: Totti is part of the Garrincha, Best, Gascoigne, Cassano dynasty. With the advantage of not being lame, neither alcoholic, nor paranoid.”

Obviously, that genius phrase is not mine. It is from the master Enric González (extracted from his splendid and well-known story of ‘cucchiaio’), but I have not been able to construct a more precise and fitting definition of the figure of the great romanist captain. I could understand if someone did not idolize Totti. However, I would be somewhat less compromising with the one to which the figure of the emblematic giallorosso is intransigent and insignificant. Football of the last two decades cannot be understood nor analyzed without the figure of the Roman hero.

Inconstant, imperfect, charismatic, very charismatic, and brilliant, when the star of Totti languishes, and shuts down sitting on a bench after thirty-nine years consecrated to Rome, there comes to mind the eternal image of Il Captain in the Romanist t-shirt tight to the chest like a Roman centurion’s breastplate. A stamp that is a heritage of world football and from which has been falling, over the last two decades, a good handful of bright and crazy moments—moments that are more typical of the unconsciousness of a teenager in love than a professional footballer. And now that his final goodbye is already set, Rome lives its last few minutes with an extraordinary emotion. Sweeping the last sips and inhaling her scent deeply, anticipating his farewell.

Because it could have been even so much different. He could have emigrated, put his art to the service of Real Madrid (he himself admitted that he was really close to signing for the Los Blancos at the beginning of the last decade) or any other European colossus. Nothing would have been great. But Totti has never felt the need to be more than what he has been and is in Rome. He has always felt comfortable, happy and comfortable with himself, devoting his sporting life to the club that allowed him to be a professional football player, and from kicking a broken ball in an alley of the neighborhood of San Giovanni to putting Trigoria at his feet. Fully identified and in perfect symbiosis with his club, exercising, proud and responsible, his Roman heritage is found in each dribble, in each immaculate control, in each of his goals. There is no other image of Totti, the genius of fast brain and slow trot, than him wearing the shield of AS Roma next to his heart. Guiding on his own as a sort of a modern Ostia lighthouse, as a reference always visible. Planting face to the established power in the north. Feeling proud of a bimillennial lineage and expressing, in that vivacious and so Italian look, an eternal thanks to the club that gave him the opportunity to be who he is: a boy from Rome who became a player of Rome and ended up becoming the player in Rome.

“People ask me, why spend all your life in Rome? Rome is my family, my friends, the people I love. Rome is the sea, the mountains, the monuments. Rome is the Romans. Rome is the red and yellow. Rome, for me, is the world. This club, this city, has been my life,” explains Totti himself.

Modest as ever, he forgets to add a detail: Rome, for all of us, it is him.