Seated on a throne and styled as the eighth king of Rome, Francesco Totti presented his new limited edition signature football boot in Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina on Wednesday. Hundreds of fans held back by crash barriers packed into the square for the event. Released to commemorate the 25th year of his career, only 2,500 pairs have been made and each carries its production number as if it were a bottle of Pappy van Winkle. Totti has understandably kept a pair for himself, and there are no prizes for guessing which number he chose from the production run. The No. 10. What else?
It remains to be seen if Totti laces them up for the derby at the weekend against Lazio. He was left out of the squad for Roma’s trip to Pescara on Monday (you can blame Thomas Vermaelen). When Vermaelen isn’t out injured himself, he’s injuring his teammates. The former Arsenal centre-back stepped on Totti’s big toe in training last week, leaving it badly bruised. If Totti doesn’t get a chance to wear his new boots on Sunday, another Totti will: Francesco’s eldest son Cristian. “He’s got a tournament in Tuscany on Sunday,” Totti said. “He’s been counting down the days until he can put them on.”
No questions were asked about his future at the derby. The last time Totti spoke about it was with Rome’s veteran talk-show host Maurizio Costanzo back in March. Quizzed on where he sees himself in a year’s time, Totti seemed undecided. “I could be a director, or still playing. Or I could decide to be an agent and go looking for new stars. I’ve got a little experience in this game, you know,” he said, smiling. Frankly, we’re still in the dark as to whether this is actually his final season. The one-year extension Totti signed last summer appeared to point to that, but no sooner had preseason started than coach Luciano Spalletti and several Roma players began to cast doubt on that idea, saying they genuinely didn’t know if it would be and that ultimately it’s down to Er Capitano to decide.
Totti put it this way to Sky Italia in November: “If I am still healthy physically, why should I stop?” Compared with this time last year, there certainly isn’t the same hysteria surrounding his future. Other than Totti’s wife, Ilary Blasi, calling Spalletti “a small man” on the eve of her husband’s 40th birthday, there has been no drama. “Why don’t you ask me about Totti anymore?” Spalletti inquired as Roma prepared for a game again Torino in February.
The reasons are several. First of all, Spalletti can’t be accused of wanting Totti out. He has insisted that if the club doesn’t give Totti a new contract, then he’ll walk. Totti appreciated the gesture, but also joked that there wouldn’t be much point re-signing if Spalletti continues not to play him. And it was a joke. “He’s a very good coach,” Totti said. “I hope Roma can keep him. He can make Roma win. This city needs him….