Francesco Totti held a press conference today at CONI’s headquarters to announce his decision to leave the club after nearly 30 years. Here are the words of the ex-captain of the Giallorossi:
“Hello and welcome. I first have to thank (CONI) president Malagò. At 12.41 today, I sent my resignation to (Roma) CEO Guido Fienga via e-mail. It is a tough day, but given the conditions, it was the right time to make this decision, I never had the chance of being able to express my work. Now isn’t the time to be pro-Pallotta or pro-Baldini — there’s only Roma. I’ve always said: presidents come and go, but the ‘bandiere’ remain. I thought long and hard. Let’s just say it was not my fault that I had to make this decision. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
Whose fault was it?
It wasn’t my fault because I never had the chance to express myself, they never involved me in the technical part of the project. In the first year, that can happen. In the second, I realised what I wanted to do and we never got together, never helped each other. They kept me out of everything.
What do you feel to tell people that are shocked by Totti’s farewell from Roma? Do you feel like saying that it won’t be a goodbye but a see you later?
I just have to say thanks to the people of Roma for the way they treated me. There has always been mutual respect, both on and off the pitch. I can only say only to continue to support this team. Roma is the most important club in the world, it must be supported and honored. To see it in such difficulty stresses me out and annoys me. Rome supporters are different from others, their love is so huge that it can never end. I will continue to support Roma even from the outside. It’s a see you later, it’s not goodbye. I can say that it is impossible to see Totti outside of Roma. As a Romanista, I don’t think it can happen. I’ll focus on a different path, when another club owner wants to trust in me, I’ll always be ready.
What do you want to do now? Is there someone more guilty than the rest?
Let’s say that right now there are so many things I can do. I am evaluating. I’ll take this month to think and the one that makes me feel best is the one I will accept and do so with all of my heart. If i make a decision it is final. There is no guilty party. We had started a journey, it was not respected, so I am moving on.
Is the club trying to “de-Romanise” or “de-Totti”?
The main focus of some people has been to remove Romans from Roma. In the end, they managed to get what they wanted. For eight years since the Americans arrived, they’ve come in and tried to shove us aside. As the years progressed, they did all they could and they’ve managed to do so.
Your relations with Franco Baldini?
There has never been a relationship with Franco Baldini and never will be. If I made this decision, it’s only normal that there were misunderstandings, problems within the club. One of the two had to leave, I stepped aside because too many people were sticking their beaks in. There are certain people in clubs who talk and make trouble. You can do all the talking you want from Trigoria, but the last word always came from London. There was no point telling people what was wrong and what needed fixing, as it was a waste of time. Nobody listened, they just listened to the word from London. It was a waste of time.
What do you need to come back?
First of all, different ownership. Then you have to see if this ownership group were to call me and believe in me. I have never have and never will hurt Roma. This hurts more than having retired as a player. I feel like I’m dying, I almost feel as if it would be better if I had died.
So you were proposed the Technical Director role? What if Baldini left?
I never talked about money and never asked for anything. I asked to be the Technical Director. I didn’t ask to oversee everything. I asked to have a strong contribution, to put my face on things. But what sort of Technical Director are you in they don’t ask you about the Sporting Director or the manager? I didn’t go to London because they warned me two days ahead of time that the manager was already decided on. I don’t know about the Sporting Director. The only manager I called was Conte. Miha, De Zerbi, Gattuso and Gasperini: I never spoke to or wrote any of them. I have to clarify because this is reality. I wouldn’t return ever if Baldini left – the vase is broken and it’s difficult to put the pieces back in the right place. I have nothing against Pallotta and Baldini. They made their choices and I respect that.
How much input did you have for De Rossi’s farewell?
The answer is trivial. I told the hierarchy in September that if this was indeed De Rossi’s final season, then tell him straight away and don’t do to him as you did to me, bu warning me with two match days left – the captain deserves respect. Then there were injuries and then Monchi and Di Francesco left, which complicated the situation. The problem is too much time is spent at Trigoria making decisions. There must be one person who decides, not ten. I talked to Daniele as a friend, not as a director. I told him to look forward, look beyond. I was a Roma director, I couldn’t say too much, but as a friend, I gave him advice that there could be problems on the horizon. Then just like they did with me, problems arose. From what I understand, this was all done deliberately: to remove Romans from Roma.
What about Sarri?
I never contacted him.
Is there anyone who stabbed you in the back at Trigoria?
Yes. I will never mention names, but there are some people who don’t want me there.
What about technical choices made?
I won’t name players out of respect. I returned from holiday and they asked me about a player and I said he wouldn’t do well. Di Francesco plays a 4-3-3 and this guy doesn’t – I told them I’d buy someone else. They told me that I always say no, but I gave them my opinion. You can guess the other name, though (of the player he wanted) because he’s the one from Ajax.