Exiled Roma captain Francesco Totti insists he has “humility and nobody can force me to stop playing football.”
The creative midfielder spoke to RAI Sport and complained Coach Luciano Spalletti did not show enough “respect,” prompting the club to leave Totti out of tonight’s Serie A game with Palermo.
This evening RAI released extra footage from that video interview.
“I want to play because I still feel like a football player. I am fortunate enough to still have the passion, as I am the first to arrive at training and the last to leave.
“When you have that, it means you have the hunger and humility to keep going and nobody can force me to stop.
“Everyone has the freedom to think and say what they want, but the last word is down to me. I know that I can give more.
“In June I will decide my future. I am not here saying ‘I want to play.’ I never said that to anyone. I am in good shape, I am at Roma’s disposal, my contract expires in June and I will evaluate whatever should come out of that.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t carry on like this. It makes me unhappy and consequently the people around me.
“Dealing with me better would be good for everyone. Having respect first of all for what I have given to this club and this team. I tried to put myself out there for everybody.
“I will sit down with President Pallotta around a table, we’ll each have our say and hope everyone emerges from that meeting happy.
“What do I expect? Fairness. My rapport with Spalletti is good morning and good evening… but I respect him as a person and as a Coach.
“I tell Roma to keep him in consideration for the future too. However, I expected all those things I read in the paper would be said to my face too.
“I don’t know what I could do afterwards. I could be a director, a Coach, an assistant manager, many things, but I hope to always remain at Roma. Undoubtedly that is my dream, I’ve always said so and that hasn’t changed.
“However, if our two paths do not lead in the same direction, then we’ll see.”
Totti’s contract expires at the end of the season and he will turn 40 in September, but it’s increasingly likely his problem is not just with Spalletti.
Roma hierarchy have studiously avoided discussing whether or not he will even be offered a contract renewal and this talk of “respect and clarity” could well be forcing their hand.
Meanwhile, there are reports Totti will be in the stands of the Stadio Olimpico for tonight's game with Palermo anyway. It could be seen as a gesture of conciliation or as a challenge forcing fans to side with one or the other.
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