Francesco Totti 'King of Rome' marks 40th birthday today

The oldest player to scorer in the UEFA Champions League celebrates his 40th birthday on Tuesday.

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Francesco Totti celebrates his 40th birthday on Tuesday but the Champions League's oldest scorer is showing no signs of slowing down and indeed seems to have found a new lease of life.

‘Er Bimbo de Oro’ — The Golden Boy — has been with Roma, his boyhood club, throughout his entire career.

 

Totti made his first-team debut against Brescia 23-and-a-half-years ago as a 16-year-old on March 28, 1993, Mihajlovic ran up to Boskov and said "come on, bring the kid on..." The rest is history.

Rome is the Eternal City, Totti is Roma's eternal leader and has been since he was first made captain in 1998, at the age of just 22.

Zdenek Zeman, who promoted Totti to the captaincy, was such an ardent admirer that he once said: "Who are the best five Italian players? Totti, Totti, Totti, Totti, Totti."

Alongside the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Alessandro Nesta and Christian Vieri, Totti helped the Under-21s win the European Championships in 1996, with victory in the final over Raul’s Spain.

 

After establishing himself as an integral member of the team, he became the youngest club captain in Serie A history when he inherited the armband from Aldair at the age of 22 in 1998 — a year before he won win his sole Young Footballer of the Year award.

He travelled with Italy to Euro 2000 for his first major tournament and famously chipped Edwin van der Sar from the penalty spot during a semi-final shoot-out en route to Golden Goal heartbreak in the final, against France — where he was named man-of-the-match.

In 2001, Totti helped Roma win the Italian league title as he scored 8 goals in the league in his position as attacking midfielder and brought the league title back to the club after a gap of 18 years. For the next four years till manager Fabio Capello left, Totti continued to be a prolific striker for Roma but the club could not win any major trophies.

In 2004, he led Italy at the European Championships but he was banned till the semi final stage, after his spat with a player in the game against Denmark and Italy crashed out in the first round of the tournament. Two years later at the World Cup in Germany, Totti was one of Italy’s most important players as he scored 1 goal but set up 4 more as the national team won the title. He announced his retirement from international football the following year and in spite of expressing interest to play for Italy at different times he didn’t ever play for the team.

There was speculation last season that maybe the time had come for Il Capitano to hang up his boots and move into the boardroom but, with six goals in his past 11 league matches and several assists, Totti is proving his doubters wrong.

Totti marked the final match of his 30s on Sunday by becoming only the second player to score 250 Serie A goals, reaching that mark with a penalty kick in Roma's 3-1 loss at Torino.

 

The man who upset Totti's pre-birthday celebrations, Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, helped persuade then Roma coach Vujadin Boskov to hand a 16-year-old Totti his debut.

Mihajlovic had been amazed by the precocious youngster, who was giving him and his fellow first-team defenders trouble in training as well as racking up goals for the youth team.

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