I’ve been going to Rome since the age of 19. It all began with a tournament when I was with Ajax, where I first encountered Francesco Totti. Even by that time he had already shown what a great player he was.
I remember been beaten buy one of his long distance shots. Edwin van der Sar said he didn’t see the ball coming – so you can imagine what kind of strike it was. Both me and Francesco were young at the time, but I remember how confident he played the game as a young man.
The reason Totti is still playing at the top level today is because he has a great footballing mind, always calculating the situation and scoring important goals. He has great technique, always knows where the space is and how to win free-kicks, and that all means he can still be ultra effective without the energy of other, younger players.
He’s the perfect number 10 and has devoted his career to just one club: AS Roma. And for that It’s clear that the people of Rome adore him. If he goes shopping people go crazy, always wanting pictures and an autograph.
There have been times when people have said he must stop because of injuries and his age, but he always comes back fighting, putting in great performances and scoring goals year after year. Everyone always falls in love with him again.
Since my first visit, Rome has been one of my favourite cities because its where I’ve eaten the best Italian food. I’ve had the opportunity to build some great relationships with the people, especially with my dear friend Immilio. He’s a huge Roma fan, so you can imagine how often he talks about Il Re di Roma (The King of Rome).
Totti is an icon in Italy, but in Rome; he is a god.