Most divorces are bitter and normally involve laying the blame at the feet of the other party, so Francesco Totti terminating his lifelong love affair with Roma was no different. In celebrity splits, there is usually one side that is seen as the ‘bad guy’ in the breakdown of their relationship and in this case there are absolutely no doubts who the love rat is. President James Pallotta and consultant Franco Baldini are the villains of the piece. That would make Totti the Jennifer Aniston, fitting as they did have similar haircuts in the 1990s.
Totti held a Press conference not at the club headquarters or even the Stadio Olimpico, but on the neutral territory of the Italian Olympic Committee hall. He walked in dressed to impress, as many tend to do when they are in the process of leaving a relationship, showing what you’re missing.
During his playing days, Totti was not always the most expressive of leaders, but he let loose on the current owners and upper management, as if he had been holding in his true feelings all these years. He felt betrayed and warned Roma fans, his little brother Daniele De Rossi and even the next generation in Alessandro Florenzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini that they would get the same treatment.
It felt like the fans represented the children in a divorce, Totti reassuring them he’d always be there, he simply couldn’t continue living under the same roof right now. Those kids have been talking back to Daddy Pallotta for a year, so one can only imagine how they’ll act out after this.
It was an ode to the love for Roma above all else, the red and yellow colours that bond people together from childhood to old age. Totti pledged that he would return to Trigoria once the current occupants had moved on, as they inevitably will, because commitment is something the American investors simply cannot understand.
Perhaps this is why he believes they are trying to purge Romanisti from Roma. If the fans see themselves in the players, in that endless passionate marriage to the cause, nobody else stands a chance. No Coach, director or President can ever hope to hold as much sway as these icons. Luciano Spalletti knew it, Baldini and Pallotta are just continuing the process with De Rossi. Who will be next?
It shouldn’t be a surprise, because the problems between Totti and Baldini go back to 2011. In his book ‘Un Capitano’, Er Pupone outlined conversations over the years in which Baldini confessed that he tried to sell the club icon many times, but the Coaches always demanded guarantees over his presence. That run eventually came to an end in 2017, when Totti was not offered a new contract and effectively forced to retire. “I want you to know it was me who made you stop,” Baldini told him.
In a way, you could see the entire situation as Roma gaslighting Totti and the fans. The statement released after his list of accusations certainly suggested that. “While we understand how hard it must be for him to take this decision to leave AS Roma after 30 years, we believe that his perception of the facts and decisions made at the club are both fanciful and far from reality.” Honey, you’re imagining things. Why must you be so jealous and irrational?
Totti was given a role within the club that was only an apparent position of power, leaving him to be mere decoration that kept fans and sponsors happy. He had brokered a deal for Antonio Conte to become the Coach, but was left out of the meetings that picked Shakhtar Donetsk boss Paulo Fonseca.
Pre-season hasn’t even started yet and already the chaos is evident. Steven Nzonzi didn’t turn up for his medical, they are being sued by the Mayor of Pinzolo for cancelling a pre-season training camp just days before it was set to begin and pulled out of the International Champions Cup, where they had been due to face Chivas in Illinois, Arsenal in North Carolina and Benfica in New Jersey. Sport betting online reflects how poorly Roma’s new season preparations have gone, and a new Coach who has no Serie A experience trying to implement his tactics needs every moment of pre-season training he can get, so these decisions are frankly alarming.
As for Totti, he is for the first time in his life looking outside the Roma box. He is footloose and fancy free, having made it clear to everyone that he tried everything possible to make this marriage work, but was rebuffed at every turn. We could well see him join the growing ex-Roma colony at Sampdoria, with Eusebio Di Francesco on the bench and passionate Giallorossi-supporting President Massimo Ferrero. Antonio Cassano still lives near Genoa, so imagine the get-togethers they could have by the beach.
Whatever step Totti takes next, it’ll only be a fling, because we all know he’ll return to his one true love eventually.