Francesco Totti made his 786th and final appearance for boyhood club Roma on Sunday, helping his side to a 2-1 win over Genoa which sealed a precious Champions League group stage berth.
16-year-old Pietro Pellegri opened the scoring on just three minutes, thus becoming the first player born in 2001 to score a Serie A goal, before Edin Dzeko levelled the scores.
Then, on 54 minutes, the 40-year-old Totti, a player born in 1976, came off the bench to make his final appearance for Roma.
Another one-club Roma legend, Daniele de Rossi, would make it 2-1 on 74 minutes only for Darko Lazovic to make it 2-2.
However, at the death, Diego Perotti bagged a dramatic winner which sees the Giallorossi second behind Juventus, one point ahead of Napoli, with that late goal securing a place in the Champions League group stages for the Serie A giants.
After the game, fans, players, and the Totti himself were all reduced to tears as the King of Rome said a final farewell at the Stadio Olimpico, as Elton John’s ‘Circle of life’ ramped up the emotion of the moment.
— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) May 28, 2017
— Ila🌻 (@amnesiall) May 28, 2017
What incredible scenes and what a player he has been!
After the game, Totti, who bagged a record 307 goals in 786 games for Roma, was handed a framed number 10 shirt before reading fans an open letter which included the lines:
Imagine you’re a child having a good dream, and your mother wakes you up to go to school.
You want to keep dreaming, you try to slip back into the dream but you never can. This time, it’s not a dream, but reality. And I can no longer slip back in.
Totti is now expected to move upstairs and join the Roma board of directors, although he could still extend his playing career at another club.
“Legend” is certainly an over-used word these days, but old Francesco more than deserves the title.