The father of Roma legend Francesco Totti has passed away at the age of 76. Enzo, who had health issues before he recently contracted COVID-19, was well respected within the Roman community and always by his son’s side as he rose to become one of the symbols of Italian football in the 20th Century. As well as Francesco, he leaves behind his wife and lifelong companion Fiorella, son Riccardo and six grandchildren.
Enzo was nicknamed “The Sheriff” because of his ability to get anything anyone asked him within a couple of minutes and the encouragement he gave to Francesco in his early years cannot be underestimated. Enzo would use Francesco’s brother Riccardo as the driving force always telling the former that his sibling was the stronger of the two although he lacked the ability to become a world class champion.
“He never let me settle, if I scored three goals he’d ask me why I hadn’t scored six and although he knew it was a stupid thing to say, he also understood that it would motivate me to become better and better," Francesco recounted.
“Mum and dad taught me a lot; they taught me the values of getting a good education and treating everyone with respect. Neither I nor Riccardo ever lacked for anything in our childhood."
As his son broke into the Roma first-team and quickly established himself as the symbol of the club, idolised by the tifosi on the Curva Sud, Enzo never used Francesco’s fame to promote himself. Totti Snr was always there for him, but only ever in the background, refusing to take any credit for his meteoric rise to fame.
During the summer ritiro, Enzo would often be seen with friends watching Francesco and his Giallorossi team-mates being put through their paces. He would always arrive in the high mountains in his camper van and could often be seen playing cards in the back with the tifosi. On September 27 every year, he would be allowed into the dressing-room to celebrate his son’s birthday and would always bring along his famous white pizza with mortadella for the team to enjoy.
It wasn’t only his son who benefitted from his words of wisdom - Another of Rome’s prodigal sons Daniele De Rossi, has admitted that Totti Snr was always there for him whenever he needed a shoulder to cry on along with former striker Antonio Cassano, who cites Enzo as being a key player in his development after his big money move to the capital at the turn of the century.
After Francesco retired, Enzo never returned to the Stadio Olimpico preferring to spend time with his grandson Cristian, who Roma fans hope will continue the Totti legacy by one day becoming the captain of La Magica.
The friends that Enzo grew up with remained his closest allies and it is a testament to the man that after the announcement of his passing on Monday, there was an outpouring of grief in the Italian capital from both sides of the footballing divide and messages of condolence from some of football’s biggest clubs including Real Madrid, who his son has always admitted was the one team he almost left his beloved Roma for.
Image credit: Francesco Totti @francescototti