Things to Know:
Totti is regarded as one of the most talented Italian players of all time, and by some as Italy’s greatest player ever. Throughout his career, Totti played predominantly as a classic number 10, functioning either as an offensive-midfield playmaker or as a supporting or deep-lying forward behind the main striker; only in the later years of his Roma career was he mainly employed as a lone striker. An elegant, world-class, and technically gifted attacking midfielder with a good knowledge of the game, Totti was a tactically versatile player, capable of playing anywhere along the front line, and was also occasionally deployed as a winger or as a central midfield playmaker under Zdeněk Zeman, and most notably as a false-9 under Luciano Spalletti and Rudi García. While Totti was a prolific goalscorer, he was also renowned for his ball control, vision, and range of passing, as well as his ability to set the pace in midfield and provide through-balls and assists for his teammates, often through his trademark use of the backheel, in particular when holding up the ball or playing with his back to goal. Throughout his career, Totti drew particular praise from pundits for his vision, precise long passing ability, and technique, which allowed him to play the ball first-time. Due to his movement and wide range of skills, his role has at times been described as that of a hardworking, generous, quick and dynamic centreforward, known as a centravanti di manovra in Italian. Known for his work rate, longevity, and willingness to contribute defensively, Totti underwent an athletic development during his time under Zeman: he undertook a muscle-strengthening programme to adapt to the rhythms of 21st-century football, gaining physical strength, stamina, fitness and shooting power to the detriment of some of his speed and agility, which also enabled him to maintain a consistent level of performance in his later career. Throughout his career, Totti made excellent use of his balance, dribbling skills, and acceleration in order to get past opponents; despite being naturally right-footed, he possessed a powerful and accurate shot from both inside and outside the area with either foot, and was also an accurate penalty kick and free kick taker. Totti also scored several goals from chipped shots throughout his career, and often used the technique on penalties; one of the most famous instances in which Totti performed this type of penalty was in the shootout of Italy’s Euro 2000 semi-final match against the Netherlands. One of his most famous lobbed goals, in which he dribbled past Inter’s Marco Materazzi before chipping the ball over goalkeeper Júlio César, was later named the best goal in Serie A of the 2005–06 season. He scored another notable goal using this technique against Lazio in the 2002 Derby della Capitale, which ended in a 5–1 win for Roma. The title of Totti’s 2006 autobiography Tutto Totti: Mo je faccio er cucchiaio (English: All about Totti: I’m gonna chip him now) referenced this technique, as well as the statement made to his Italy teammates before his memorable Euro 2000 semi-final shootout penalty against the Netherlands. Having served as Roma’s captain for several years, Totti was praised for his leadership. Despite his talent and ability, however, Totti drew criticism at times for his character and lack of discipline on the pitch, which occasionally caused him to commit bad fouls and receive unnecessary bookings; with eleven red cards, he has the joint-sixth highest number of sending offs in Serie A history.