Il Tempo (Erika Menghi) “I’ll decide when I retire”, part 2. It seems as though Francesco Totti hasn’t decided what to do next, and it’s not just about what position he will take upstairs at Roma, because he hasn’t definitively ruled out hanging up his boots just yet. Speaking to Chi, he talked about it once more: “For now I’m enjoying a bit of time off with Ilary, then we’ll see: it’s not a given that I will definitely stop playing.” His mini-break to St Tropez has helped him to unwind a bit, but hasn’t helped him to clear up his future. Was 28th May really his last game as a player? Or just the last time he captains Roma?
These questions are still up in the air, and there are a number of paths he can still take, which lead in a number of different directions, but Totti is giving mixed signals as he continues to make U-turns and make contradictory comments. At the moment he is in the capital and might soon go to Trigoria to talk things over with the Giallorossi directors, who have now returned from Boston: he will have to tell the truth to them, at least. Because on 1 July, Francesco’s new contract – as a director – will come into effect. It will last 6 years, though there is still a question mark about what exactly his role will be.
Perhaps he will start packing his bags, taking his golden boots with him as he flies who knows where to enthral a new set of football fans. After all, he has never explicitly said “I’m retiring from playing”, not even in his emotional letter that he wanted to read out amid the tears in the Olimpico 10 days ago. Is that because he doesn’t really want to retire? Or, maybe, it’s just because he’s afraid of saying the phrase that would put an end to his playing career? He didn’t hide the fact he was afraid, in fact he told the world he was, which might have been his way of protecting himself from those – or, more accurately, what (his age) – that are trying to take him away from the football that he’s been playing with ever since he was a child.
There was no sign of any future plans in the letter he read out at the stadium and so, after Totti day, when he found himself having dinner with his friends and family he didn’t add the line that everyone was expecting to hear: “There was no full stop in the letter, it’s not over. I’ll carry on next year, who knows where. I’ll keep going, I’ll keep going, I don’t know where but I’ll keep going.” But then came another U-turn, because it turned out that he may only have been joking. Francesco’s sense of humour can leave you wrong-footed and confused sometimes, it creates misunderstandings, but his fans will forgive him because they’re afraid of losing him.
In the meantime, he hasn’t yet set foot back in the Fulvio Bernardini since the last pre-match training session and the final coach journey to the packed stadium. He hasn’t trained since Trigoria closed for the summer, which is perfectly normal given that – except for Emerson Palmieri, who has had to start his recovery programme after his cruciate ligament injury – everyone has joined up with their national teams or are on holiday, as well as the fact that Totti doesn’t need to get warmed up for next season. Not here, anyway.
Pallotta wants him in Rome as an ambassador, in order to maximise the selling potential of his name around the world, while Monchi wants him close by him at his side, given that he knows everything about the club and has spent half his life playing for them on the pitch. He is an expert on Roma, but is still looking for the next path to take. He will retire when he wants to, either (most probably) on 28th May, or in a year’s time, but sooner or later fear will have to give in to the truth.