For any outfield footballer, playing until the age of forty is a remarkable achievement. It is even more extraordinary if they have played for the same football club for their whole career, the loyalty alone is something very special. Ryan Giggs is of course the player that springs to mind when such a record is discussed and rightly so. He won over thirty major trophies with Manchester United, scored 114 goals and made 672 appearances for the club. Giggs is without doubt a one off you might say, something that may never be seen again, but if you watch Serie A you will know they have a unique player of their own – Francesco Totti – Italy’s answer to Ryan Giggs.
The decline of the Italian League over recent years has somewhat over shadowed the achievements of Totti. He, like Giggs, has played for Roma all of his professional career and has actually overtaken the Manchester United winger with his longevity in the game. He is still continuing to play for his club after his 40th Birthday which was in September of this year, he scored his 250th goal for Roma two days before this milestone. His club clearly see no barrier with age – despite turning forty he is still very much part of the club’s plans and has been captain of the team since 1998 – with the records this great footballer holds, you would expect nothing less. However, in this fast moving world of football, some players may have been moved on by now and considered surplus to requirements; but I think you would agree, Totti’s experience alone is something Roma would consider a great advantage to the team.
Totti’s commitment to Roma is maybe even more dedicated than Giggs. His win rate and trophy success at the Italian club was always going to be less likely than if he were a player at one of the bigger clubs in Europe. These clubs must have come calling for the services of the Italian but he has stayed loyal to Roma. To date he has made 605 appearances for the club who gave him his first team chance at the age of sixteen. His winner’s medals may not have reached the heights of Giggs, but in a league dominated by Juventus and the Milan clubs, Totti has won the Serie A title as well as twice the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italia.
Twenty-three years is a long time in any occupation and football has changed significantly since 1993 when Totti made his debut for Roma. The world’s most expensive footballer at the time was fellow Italian Gianluigi Lentini who joined Milan for £13million – a fee that has increased seven times over to date. Serie A was classed as possibly the best league in the world at the time, attracting players such as the Brazilian’s Ronaldo and Cafu as well as Germany’s Lothar Matthäus to name just a few. As well as these past accounts, footballing technology has also changed the game, whilst the rules and regulations have altered over the years, one fact remains; Francesco Totti is an incredible world-class player who is still captaining and scoring goals for his beloved club despite entering his 40th year in life. In a footballing world now dominated by extraordinary transfer fees and players attracted by extravagant wages, it is good to see a long and loyal relationship can still exist between a footballer and his club.