Footballing greats pay tribute to Roma legend Totti

Pele, Diego Maradona, Alex Ferguson and a host of famous football personalities have paid tribute to Roma legend Francesco Totti throughout his storied career.

Footballing greats pay tribute to Roma legend Totti
Francesco Totti is tossed in the air by teammates after his last match. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Below is a selection of their thoughts on the 40-year-old Italian icon, who retired after completing his 25th and final season with the Serie A club on Sunday.

Alex Ferguson, formerly Manchester United manager: “Totti is the symbol of Roma, just like Ryan Giggs was at Manchester United.”

Argentina legend Diego Maradona: “At his best, Totti was the world's number one.”

Totti on Maradona's appraisal of Totti: “After Maradona said I was the best player he'd seen in his life, I can retire now too.”

Retired Liverpool great Steven Gerrard on Totti: “I think he would agree that I play football for the people, and to make the people happy. The most important thing for me is to win and have success and share it with my people, the people of my city. That's what makes me want to play football and win, and
I'm sure Francesco, over the years, his buzz and his happiness comes from making the Roma people happy. And that's where we're similar.”

Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, a former rival at Lazio, on Totti: “If you ask me, Totti has been the best player in Italian football for the past 20 years. And I'm sure he'll be just as influential on the other side of the pitch.”

Teammate Daniele De Rossi on Totti: “He can't complain because he's played for so long, we can't complain about the feats he's let us enjoy watching, and we have enjoyed them. With his skills, which I envy, he'll still be playing exactly the same way when he's 50 and having a kickabout with friends.”

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri on Totti: “We owe him a big thanks for what he's achieved, because it's top level footballers who make the game beautiful. After 20 unforgettable years, it's a special moment for him and the fans, but he will remain a part of Roma's history. I wish him well for the future.”

Juventus legend and former Italy teammate Alessandro Del Piero on Totti (via Il Metssaggero): “Eras in football never end: what's been achieved remains forever. Especially if history has been made. We're very different from each other but we took similar paths: that's why we're so close and why we've had
such a special relaionship for so long. I have huge respect for him and I know the feeling is mutual.”

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti on Totti: “In the past few seasons he hasn't had many playing opportunities, so it's good to see his enthusiasm hasn't waned. When I arrived at the club, that's what was asked of me, because Roma is a top club with a quality side. I had to take a lot of things into account, but primarily Roma.”

Former Real Madrid striker Raul: “I would have been honoured to play alongside Totti.”

Pele: “Totti was the best player in the world in his prime.”

Juventus goalkeeper and fellow Serie A veteran Gianluigi Buffon: “Totti has written the story of Italian football. I'm one of his favourite victims. I've played so many games against him – and he's always played in strong teams, as I have – so it was inevitable he has scored goals against me. I can't say I was happy he scored against me, but if I'd saved some of the goals he scored, I would have ruined a masterpiece.”

Retired Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti: “He's one of a kind. When it comes to players like him, club legends, you can see how great they are by the amount of passion and talent they show on the pitch. He's one of those players who can produce a moment of magic at any time. It was a huge honour for me to play against him on so many occasions, in big games with silverware on the line.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

The Tokyo Olympics were Italy's best Games yet, with Italian athletes taking home more medals than ever before. Here are the highlights.

PHOTOS: Italy’s most memorable medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Gianmarco Tamberi celebrate after winning golds in the 100m sprint and high jump. Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

With ten golds, ten silvers and 20 bronzes, the Azzurri representing Italy in Tokyo were tenth on the medal table overall and top in Italian sporting history.

Previously the most medals Italy had ever won at a single Olympics was 36, which the country hadn’t equalled since the Rome Games in 1960.

READ ALSO: ‘Do Italy just win everything now?’: Celebrations after Italian athletes take Olympic gold

As well as a ceremony at the presidential palace in September, Italy’s Olympic champions will be welcomed back with prize money from the Italian National Olympic Committee: gold medalists are awarded €180,000 each, while silver medallists get €90,000 and bronze medallists get €60,000.

And then there’s the glory: after an exceptionally successful summer of Italian sport and music, Italy’s Olympic team dubbed their athletes “stupor mundi” – Latin for ‘the wonder of the world’. 

Italy’s gold medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Men’s high jump: Gianmarco Tamberi

Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi couldn’t have been happier to share the gold with his fellow competitor Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, in what was hailed as one of the most touching moments of the Games. 

  • Men’s 100m: Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Relatively unknown long jumper-turned-sprinter Lamont Marcell Jacobs was in the form of his life when he outran the favourites and hurtled to first place in the biggest race in men’s athletics. He’s the first Italian ever to qualify for the Olympic final of the event, let alone win it.

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 4 x 100m relay 

Lorenzo Patta, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Eseosa Desalu and Filippo Tortu pulled off an astonishing victory by the smallest of margins, with Tortu flinging himself over the finish line to snatch gold from the favourites, Great Britain, by just a hundredth of a second. It was another historic first for Italy: the country has never before won the event, and the last time an Italian team got onto the podium was at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (silver). 

Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP
  • Men’s 20km race walk: Massimo Stano
  • Women’s 20km race walk: Antonella Palmisano

Antonella Palmisano cemented Italy’s domination of the walking competition when she followed up her teammate Massimo Stano’s gold with her own victory a day later. She actually performed slightly faster at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but that time only earned her fourth last time round.

Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP
  • Track cycling, men’s team pursuit

Italy’s four-man team set a new track cycling world record by completing 16 laps (4km) in just 3:42.032. While Great Britain had long dominated the event and Denmark were reigning World Champions, no Italian team had won it since the Rome Olympics of 1960.

Photo by Greg Baker / AFP
  • Karate, men’s kumite -75kg: Luigi Busa
  • Rowing, lightweight women’s double sculls 
Valentina Rodini (L) and Federica Cesarini (R) celebrate their win in the lightweight women’s double sculls final. Photo by Luis ACOSTA / AFP
  • Sailing, mixed multihull – Nacra 17 foiling
  • Taekwondo, Men’s -58kg: Vito Dell’Aquila

Vito Dell’Aquila won Italy its first gold of the Games, at the age of just 20. It was his first Olympics but at this rate, it won’t be his last.

Photo by Javier SORIANO / AFP

Italy’s silver medals at the 2020 Olympics

  • Artistic gymnastics, women’s floor exercise: Vanessa Ferrari

Arguably Italy’s greatest competing gymnast, 30-year-old Vanessa Ferrari proved the value of experience when she became the first Italian to win an individual Olympic medal for women’s artistic gymnastics.

Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP
  • Men’s individual archery: Mauro Nespoli
  • Men’s kayak single 200m: Manfredi Rizza
  • Fencing, men’s foil individual: Daniele Garrozo
  • Fencing, men’s sabre individual: Luigi Samele
  • Fencing, men’s sabre team

Fencing has long been one of Italy’s strongest sports, and these Games were no exception. Altogether Italian fencers took three silvers and two bronzes in both team and individual events. 

Italy’s Luca Curatoli (L) competes against South Korea’s Gu Bongil in the men’s sabre team gold medal bout. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
  • Women’s skeet shooting: Diana Bacosi
  • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay
  • Swimming, men’s 800m freestyle: Gregorio Paltrinieri 
  • Weightlifting, women’s 64kg: Giorgia Bordignon
    Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

    Italy’s bronze medals at the 2020 Olympics

    • Women’s individual archery: Lucilla Boari
    • Women’s featherweight boxing: Irma Testa

    Irma “Butterfly” Testa made history as the first Italian woman to win an Olympic medal for boxing, a victory she dedicated to all of Italy’s female boxers.

    Photo by Luis ROBAYO / POOL / AFP
    • Women’s cycling road race: Elisa Longo Borghini 
    • Track cycling, men’s omnium: Elia Viviani 
    • Men’s 10km marathon swimming: Gregorio Paltrinieri 

    Gregorio Paltrinieri is one of the best long-distance swimmers there is, holding the men’s world record for the 1500m freestyle. He comes home from Tokyo with two medals: silver in the 800m freestyle, and bronze in the gruelling 10km swim.

    Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP
    • Swimming, men’s 100m breaststroke: Nicolo Martinenghi
    • Swimming, men’s 100m butterfly: Federico Burdisso
    • Swimming, men’s 4 x 100m medley relay
    • Swimming, women’s 800m freestyle: Simona Quadarella 
    • Judo, women’s -52kg: Odette Giuffrida
    Photo by Franck FIFE / AFP
    • Judo, women’s -63kg: Maria Centracchio
    • Fencing, women’s épée team
    • Fencing, women’s foil team 
    • Karate, women’s kata: Viviana Bottaro

    Accomplished karateka Viviana Bottaro won Italy its first Olympic medal in karate, which made its debut at the Tokyo Games. 

    Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP
    • Rowing, lightweight men’s double sculls
    • Rowing, men’s four
    • Rhythmic gymnastics, group all-around

    Nicknamed le Farfalle (‘the Butterflies’), Italy’s five-woman rhythmic gymnastic team provided one of Italy’s last medal-winning performances on the final day of the Games, and one of the most spectacular.

    Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
    • Weightlifting, men’s 67kg: Mirko Zanni 
    • Weightlifting, men’s 81kg: Antonino Pizzolato
    • Wrestling, men’s freestyle 97kg: Abraham de Jesus Conyedo Ruano