There are many reasons why Francesco Totti has gained an unparalleled place of honor in the Roma supporters’ pantheon, as well as in any good calcio lover’s. Perhaps it is because of him being so much of a Romanista – born and raised in Rome, and since childhood a supporter of La Magica. (“The Magic One,” as Roma are affectionately known among their fan base)
Maybe it is because of his decision of indissolubly binding his football fate to that of the GIallorossi – the one and only club he would wear the jersey of in his whole career, basically giving up most chances of winning any international club trophy.
Or maybe, most simply, the reason is that Francesco Totti was just an awesomely talented football player. Not only was he capable of scoring loads of goals. He did so in such a way that could not but make all non-Romanisti fans across the Peninsula reluctantly regret that the Capitano was not born in Milan. Or Turin. Or whatever.
Some of Totti’s goals were authentic works of art. Unique pieces that nobody would even think of replicating. There were no such things as goals “alla Totti,” simply because each of them was a matchless gem itself. How many Mona Lisa did Leonardo da Vinci paint?
When Roma and their Capitano travelled to Genova to face Sampdoria on November 26, 2006, Totti was living one of his best seasons. La Magica, trained for the second year by Luciano Spalletti, were vainly trying to chase Inter in the first campionato after the Calciopoli scandal apocalypse – which had wiped Juventus away from the Serie A panorama.
The Giallorossi were in a pretty good shape, coming from a stunning 7-0 goalfest to the detriment of Catania one week earlier. Their Scudetto dreams would however soon vanish at the hands of a steamrolling Nerazzurri roster. Still, Roma found some consolation into an enthusiastic Champions League run – at least until the Law of Seven turned against them and delivered an historical 1-7 quarter finals setback at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
But on that day of November, the Manchester nightmare was yet to come, and Roma’s minds were only at the away game against the Blucerchiati at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium. Francesco Totti scored his first goal in the 13th minute, but midfielder Sergio Volpi soon equalized for La Doria.
Simone Perrotta put the Giallorossi ahead again with a shot from out of the box and, just before half time, Christian Panucci made it three for the visitors tapping the ball in from point-blank range. The match seemed already to have taken a quite clear direction, but Roma’s captain wanted to go above and beyond.
In the 74th minute, at the end of a prolonged action around Sampdoria’s area, a long cross from the right side by Marco Cassetti found the immortal Capitano, who decided to hit with a volley from a very tight angle. Now, according to logic, from such an angled position you would try to put the ball close to the near post. That’s logical, right?
Totti didn’t do that. Instead, he fired a hissing shot which crossed the whole area and ended its crazy run on the opposite side of poor Gianluca Berti’s goal. It was like the ball had suddenly rebelled itself and decided by its own initiative to take a different direction than the one logic or even laws of physics would force it in.
Sampdoria’s goalkeeper was left swearing at his teammates, the weather, or simply the fact that on that specific day he had to face Francesco Totti. It was such a goal that even the sportsmanlike home supporters at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium could not but stand and applause, as the Pupone run to celebrate by sucking his thumb – one of his trademark celebrations in honor of his babies.
From the spot, Francesco Flachi eventually reduced the gap for Sampdoria, but the game had obviously ended with Francesco Totti’s prodigious shot.
Totti would end up being the Serie A top scorer for the 2006-07 campionato, making it to the scorecard an impressive, career-best 26 times – which would also award him the European Golden Boot. His ballistic feat against Sampdoria stood out not only in what was one of his best seasons, but even in the whole glistening career of the unforgettable Pupone – the “Little Big Baby” of Roma.
November 26, 2006 – Serie A 2006-07 Round 12
SCORERS: 13′ Totti (R), 14′ Volpi (S), 33′ Perrotta (R), 44′ Panucci (R), 74′ Totti (R), 90′ Flachi (S, pen.)
|SAMPDORIA (4-4-2): Berti; Maggio, Sala, Falcone, Zenoni; Palombo, Volpi, Parola, Delvecchio (46′ Olivera); Quagliarella (28′ Flachi), Bonazzoli (58′ Bazzani) (Castellazzi, Accardi, Bonanni, Franceschini) Coach: Novellino|
|ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Cassetti, Mexes, Chivu, Panucci (89′ Vucinic); De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta (84′ Rosi), Mancini; Totti (80′ Montella) (Curci, Virga, Palermo, Polverini) Coach: Spalletti|
REFEREE: Mr. Ayroldi from Molfetta
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Ammoniti Parola, Zenoni, Volpi (S), Chivu, De Rossi (R)