Francesco Totti might be the most beloved athlete by his team’s fans in the world. At 39 he still plays for hometown club Roma, who he signed with as a 12-year-old in 1989. He is Roma’s captain—he was first named in 1998, 18 goddamn years ago—and holds numerous club and Serie A records.
But as previously mentioned, Totti is 39. He’s getting up there. He missed almost three months this season because of a hip flexor injury. He will end the season with his fewest appearances since 1993-94, and probably his fewest goals since 1996-97. His effectiveness is waning. He publicly criticized his coach for lack of playing time. Sky Italia reports that he will join the New York Cosmos of the NASL next season, or maybe Leicester.
All of this information is necessary to understand the scenes from last night’s Roma-Torino match, which once again saw Totti glued to the bench. But down 1-2 to il Toro, Roma brought Totti on in the 85th minute. Here’s what he did in the next three minutes:
People lost. their. shit!
Here is broadcaster Carlo Zampa crying after Totti’s second (h/t r/soccer):
And Roma TV announcer Alessandro Sparta:
And Roma fans were just weeping in the stands:
The game did have some practical import. With the win Roma moved seven points clear of Inter Milan in fourth place, all but assuring them a place in the Champions League next season. But that’s not why everybody was so emotional.
Roma has just four games remaining this season, and only two of them at home. Totti’s contract could still be extended, but the signs point to him being on his way out. And if this is indeed Totti’s last season with Roma, this was probably Totti’s last great game in front of the fans who’ve cheered him on since he broke into the first team, 23 long seasons ago.