Francesco Totti said goodbye to Roma and his playing career with a touching speech, confessing “I am afraid and I need your help. I’m not ready to say it’s over.”
The captain had his final match in a Giallorossi jersey, beating Genoa 3-2 to secure automatic Champions League qualification, and was in tears as he gave one final tour of the Stadio Olimpico.
“We’re here, the moment has arrived. Unfortunately, the moment has arrived that I hoped would never come,” said Totti to the crowd in his speech.
“Over the last few days, so much has been said about me, such wonderful things. You were behind me, pushing me on during difficult moments, and that’s why I want to say thank you to everyone.
“I cried on my own, like crazy! You can’t just forget 25 years like this. I thank everyone, even if this is not easy for me. I spoke to my wife about what these years have been like.
“I thank my mother and father, my brother, family and friends. Thank you to my wife and three children. I wanted to start from this, because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get to the end of it.
“It is impossible to explain 28 years in a few phrases. I’d love to do it with a song or a poem, but I’m no good at those. I tried to express myself through my feet, because everything seems easier that way.
“Speaking of which, do you know my favourite toy when I was young? The football! And it still is. But at a certain point, you have to grow up. That’s what they told me, that time had made its decision.
“Damn you, time! The same that on that June 17, 2001 we wanted to go so fast. I couldn’t wait to hear the referee blow his whistle three times and it still gives me goosebumps now.
“Now time has come and tapped me on the shoulder, telling me I have to grow up. He said, from tomorrow, you will be an adult. Take off your shorts and boots, from now you are a man and can no longer smell the grass, feel the sun in your face, the adrenaline that consumes you and the satisfaction of celebrating.
“I asked myself over these months why I am waking up from this dream. You know when you’re a child, and you’re dreaming something wonderful until your mother wakes you up to go to school? You try to get back to sleep, but will never be back in that same dream. The spell is broken.
“This time it wasn’t a dream, it was reality. I want to dedicate this letter to all the children who cheered me on, to those who perhaps grew up with me and became fathers.
“I like to think of my career as a fairy-tale to tell… and this is the worst part. Now it really is over. I take off my shirt for the last time. I will fold it nicely, even if I have to admit I’m not ready to say it’s over and maybe I never will be.
“Sorry if during this period I didn’t give interviews or clarified my thoughts, but it’s not easy to switch that light off. Now I am afraid. It’s not the same fear you have in front of the goal when you need to score a penalty. This time I cannot see through the holes in the net what lies beyond.
“So allow me to be a little afraid. This time I am the one who needs you and your warmth. What you’ve always shown me. With your affection, I will certainly be able to turn the page and throw myself into a new adventure.
“Now is the moment to thank my teammates, Coaches, directors, Presidents, all those who worked alongside me over the years. The fans, the Curva Sud, a reference point for us Romans and Romanisti.
“Being born Roman and Romanisti is a privilege. Being captain of this team was an honour. You are and always will be in my life. I might not be able to have fun with my feet any more, but my heart will always be with you.
“Now I walk down those stairs, enter the locker room that welcomed me when I was a child and I leave now that I am a man.
“I am happy and proud to have given 28 years of my love to Roma. I love you!”