Francesco Totti admits ‘leaving Roma is like dying’ and claims Antonio Conte – his pick to replace Claudio Ranieri – ‘had given us the all-clear’.
Totti ended his 30-year association with Roma on Monday, first as a player and most recently as a director, explaining the reasons for his exit at a warts-and-all Press conference.
“I can only thank the people of Rome for the way they always treated me. There was always reciprocal respect, on the field and off. I can only urge them to continue cheering on this team, because Roma must always be supported and honoured.
“In my eyes, Roma is the most important club in the world. It saddens me to see them in this current condition. It irritates me. Roma fans are unlike any others, the love they have for the club is endless.
“I will always support Roma. It’s an arriverderci, not a goodbye. It’s impossible to see Totti outside of Roma. As a Romanista, what really irritates me is that I can’t see it happen.
“Many things made me think about this. I was never allowed to participate, they called me in to I think 10 meetings over two years. They’d always call me at the last minute, as if they were trying to keep me out. After a while, that starts to really weigh on you.
“It shows a lack of respect not for a director, but for a person. I tried to bring something to this club, but I saw the thought process on the other side was different.”
“If I were to return to Roma, we’d need a new owner. First and foremost. If the new owners believed in me, then that would be great.
“What I can say is that I will never hurt Roma. This is far worse than retiring as a player. Leaving Roma is like dying. I feel like it’d be better if I died.
“So many have told me over the years that I am too much of a weight on this club. That I get in the way.”
The Giallorossi great was then asked about his potential role of technical director and truth about Conte, who has since joined Inter.
“I never talked about or asked about money. I asked to be a technical director because I think I am competent at finding good players. I never asked to run everything.
“I asked to make the same decisions as everyone else, but if they get a new Coach, get players, sell players and don’t ask you, then what kind of a technical director am I?
“I didn’t go to London because they called me two days before and had already struck a deal with the Coach. I don’t even know if they’ve chosen a director of sport.
“The only Coach I ever called and spoke to was Antonio Conte. It is not true that I called or sent a message to Gasperini, Gattuso, Mihajlovic. It’s all fantasy.
“So if they act like I made all these calls and was turned down, yet they made one call to Fonseca and he accepted, no. I will not be made to look like a fool. There is zero truth to it.
“I thank Fienga publicly, as he is the only one in the club who stood up in front of everyone and said if he were in charge, Totti would be the first choice of technical director. He was the only one who ever stood up for me.
“The only Coach I ever called along with Fienga was Claudio Ranieri. I made a decision the others didn’t want and it was done thanks to Fienga.
“I also thank Ranieri, as he would’ve come to Roma for free. He is a real man. We didn’t talk about money, the team, he immediately said: ‘Tomorrow I will be at Trigoria.’
“Roma fans should be thankful to Ranieri and I am so glad the fans did that during Daniele’s last game.”
“No, I wouldn’t return if Baldini left, because what’s happened has happened. The vase is broken, it cannot be put together again. They made their choice and if they were going to remove Baldini, they would’ve done it already.
“I have nothing against Pallotta and Baldini. They made their choices and I respect that.”
Could the 42-year-old not have straightened things out with CEO Fienga and President Pallotta?
“Yes, but Fienga said this three months ago, that he’d make me the technical director at long last. In my first contract I wrote with Roma, everyone knew that was the role I wanted.
“However, if there is someone who always puts a spanner in the works and finds some sort of problem… I’m not stupid.
“The technical director gives an important opinion on the new Coach, right? But seeing as they decided everything, what was I supposed to do? If things went badly, could I go out there and say I hadn’t chosen Fonseca?
“Guido Fienga and I called Conte, before Pallotta knew about it. I said the only one who can transform Roma right now is Antonio Conte. He had given us the all-clear, as we saw and talked to him many times, but then there were problems and he changed his mind.
“When we did talk to Pallotta, he was happy about the idea.”