After 30 years at his beloved hometown team, former club captain and record goal scorer Francesco Totti has left AS Roma following a disagreement between himself and ownership around his role.
During an emotional news conference, Totti claimed that his role had never been properly defined, and that he was continually excluded from strategic decisions made at the club.
“It was not my fault… Today is like dying. It would have been better to die,” Totti told reporters.
The trouble started in 2017, when after scoring 307 goals in 786 games Totti had his hand forced into calling time on his playing career, to move into a technical role without definition.
In May 2019, Roma declined to renew the contract of Totti’s lifelong friend and fellow Roman Daniele de Rossi, fuelling the fire of fan hatred toward club President James Pallotta.
“Some people have always wanted Romans out of Roma. Now they achieved what they wanted,” Totti said. “De Rossi and I will go to the stadium next year, into the stands with the fans.”
“They forced me to quit football as a player. They have made many promises, never fulfilled.”
Following Totti’s news conference, AS Roma issued their own statement, in which they disputed their former captains claims about his technical role.
“The club is extremely disappointed to learn that Francesco Totti has announced that he has decided to leave the club and not take up the position of Technical Director of AS Roma. We offered this role to him after Monchi’s exit, for which we were awaiting his answer.
“We believed that the role offered to Francesco is one of the most senior positions at the club and obviously requires total dedication and commitment, something that is expected of all senior managers within the club.
“We were prepared to be patient with Francesco and help him achieve the transition from being a great footballer into a great manager. To demonstrate this commitment to Francesco, the role of Technical Director was offered to him — a role that we believed he could grow into and one in which we offered to support him in while he adapts.
“While we understand how hard it must be for him to take this decision to leave AS Roma after 30 years, we believe that his perception of the facts and decisions made at the club are both fanciful and far from reality.
“Regarding the repeated references to a possible comeback with a new ownership, combined with information about interested parties collected by him around the world, we hope that this was not meant to be an inappropriate anticipation of a takeover attempt of the club, a scenario that would be very sensitive as AS Roma is a listed company. The club’s investor group have absolutely no intention of putting AS Roma up for sale, now or in the future.
“We wish Francesco only good luck with what he decides to do next.”
While it had looked like Totti would spend the entirety of his career at the Eternal City club, it seems that at least in the short term, too many bridges have been burned to make that a reality.